NEW YORK - Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) announced today that Charles R. Lee will retire as chairman of the Verizon Board of Directors, effective at the close of business on Dec. 31, 2003, and that CEO Ivan Seidenberg will succeed him in that role.
Under terms of an agreement announced at the time of the Bell Atlantic and GTE merger in 2000, Lee was to have served as non-executive chairman until June 30, 2004. However, Lee recommended moving up the leadership transition and exiting the Board earlier than planned based on the successful integration and operation of Verizon.
"Verizon has demonstrated it's on the right strategic path. Accelerating this transition underscores my confidence in both the company and Ivan's leadership," Lee said. "As I move to new challenges apart from Verizon, I know I leave the company in the very capable and experienced hands of Ivan and our other strong, experienced directors."
Seidenberg said, "Chuck Lee has been a strong leader and chairman, and we have benefited from his sound advice and counsel over the past several years. He has been a partner in a remarkable achievement: creating one of the most respected companies in the world. On behalf of our employees, customers and shareholders, I thank him for his contributions and wish him and his family health and happiness in the years ahead."
Lee was named chairman and CEO of GTE in 1991, and focused the company solely on the telecommunications business, divesting GTE's electrical products and other non-telecom businesses. As the largest independent phone company in the nation, GTE was one of the first companies to offer both local and long-distance, along with wireless and Internet services. With Seidenberg, he led the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic to form Verizon on June 30, 2000.
Lee joined GTE in 1983 from Columbia Pictures, where he was senior vice president - finance from 1980 to 1983. Before then, he served as senior vice president - finance for Penn Central and in other financial management positions with that company and its subsidiaries beginning in 1971. He began his business career with United States Steel in 1964. Lee currently serves as a director of United States Steel, Marathon Oil, United Technologies and Procter & Gamble.
A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues and 221,000 employees. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 139 million access line equivalents and 36 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with nearly 16 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.