Steve Bennett

Symantec PR

Steve Bennett

General


Security software company Symantec fired its CEO Steve Bennett and named a director, Michael Brown, as its interim president and CEO, the company announced on Thursday.

A search for a replacement is under way, it said.

“This considered decision was the result of an ongoing deliberative process, and not precipitated by any event or impropriety,” Symantec chairman Daniel Schulman said in a prepared statement.

Symantec shares fell by nearly nine percent in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq to $19.09 after having closed at $20.91 during the regular session. The shares have fallen by more than 14 percent since this time last year.

Bennett is a former CEO of Intuit and a veteran GE executive. He joined Symantec in 2012 at a time when the company was seen as a fading brand on both the consumer and enterprise security fronts.

His relatively short tenure as CEO will be best remembered for a series of corporate reorganizations. Last June he instituted a significant layoff of about 1,700 employees after announcing his intent to streamline the company into 10 operating units.

His plan had been to trim between $220 million and $250 million of Symantec’s annual operating budget, he said at the time. SEC filings show that as of the nine months ended December 27, Symantec’s operating costs had declined by $133 million. At that run rate, Bennett’s reductions would have amounted to about $178 million, well short of the goal he laid out last year. Restructuring charges in the first nine months of the year amounted to $237 million.

Bennett followed up on the layoffs by naming five new executives to help initiate what he described as a shift in direction and who would lead an effort to “drive innovative thinking.”

Symantec also reiterated its guidance for the quarter ending this month, saying that it expects revenue to decline by as much as 7.6 percent year on year to between $1.6 billion and $1.65 billion. It said it expects earnings per share on a GAAP basis to increase to between 29 cents and 31 cents a share, up from 27 cents in the year-ago period.

Brown, the interim CEO, joined Symantec’s board after it acquired the storage company Veritas in 2005. He was previously CEO of Quantum, a $6 billion storage hard drive manufacturer that was acquired by Maxtor in 2001, which was in turn acquired by Seagate Technology in 2005.



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