AKRON (Oct. 1, 2002) — Robert J. Keegan, Goodyear's current president and chief operating officer, will take over the CEO reins from Samir G. Gibara on Jan. 1, 2003, the company's board of directors announced today during a regularly scheduled meeting.
Mr. Gibara, 63—who has been with the tire maker for 36 years, including the last 6½ as chairman and CEO—will remain as chairman of the company's board. He also will chair a newly formed executive committee of the board, Goodyear said.
A former Eastman Kodak Co. executive, Mr. Keegan, 55, will assume management responsibility for the company. Those executives currently reporting to Mr. Gibara will instead report to Mr. Keegan.
As chairman, Mr. Gibara will retain the duties of board leadership, the company said, and will assist Mr. Keegan as he takes over his new responsibilities. Mr. Gibara also will advise and assist senior management in matters related to Goodyear's strategic plan, industry and market trends, company business initiatives and relationships with key joint venture partners, shareholders and customers.
The board executive committee has been established, Goodyear added, as part of an enhanced governance model and will provide company executives with "more active counsel" on business matters.
During Mr. Gibara's term as CEO, the price of Goodyear's stock hit a peak in the mid-$70 range during the first half of 1998, but has tumbled recently, leading to speculation about his continued tenure at the top of the Akron-based tire maker. The price of Goodyear shares sank the week of Sept. 23 into single digits for the first time in more than 11 years.
In regard to the impending changes, Mr. Gibara said they will "provide for both the orderly transition to new leadership for the company and more active counsel from the leaders of our board on matters affecting our business."
Mr. Keegan said he is "excited about the opportunity," relishes the challenge and looks forward to the input from the new board executive committee "as we move forward."
Joining Mr. Gibara on the new committee are John G. Breen, retired board chairman of the Sherwin-Williams Co.; William J. Hudson Jr., retired vice chairman of AMP Inc.; Philip A. Laskawy, retired chairman/CEO of Ernst & Young; Steven A. Minter, the Cleveland Foundation's executive director and president; and James M. Zimmerman, chairman and CEO of Federated Department Stores.
Following the announced executive changes, Goodyear´s directors declared a quarterly dividend of 12 cents a share, payable Dec. 16 to shareholders of record Nov. 15. The company said the payout represents an annual rate of 48 cents per share.