William J. Shea has unexpectedly resigned as president and chief executive officer of Conseco Inc.[@@]
Shea assumed command of the company in November 2002 as it was about to declare bankruptcy.
Although little reason was given for Shea’s sudden departure, which was announced late yesterday, the company issued a statement praising him for leading the company to two straight profitable quarters this year.
During his tenure, Conseco, Mt. Carmel, Ind., reduced its debt from a reported $7 billion to a little over $2 billion and emerged from bankruptcy.
The company’s board of directors appointed William S. Kirsch to succeed Shea as president and CEO.
As a managing partner of Kirkland & Ellis, a law firm in Chicago,
Kirsch had been Conseco’s principal outside counsel throughout its Chapter 11 reorganization. He assumed the duties of executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Conseco in September 2003.
The board also named R. Glenn Hilliard as executive chairman of the company. Hilliard, a former CEO of ING Americas, had served as non-executive chairman of Conseco since September 2003.
The company says Hilliard will work with Kirsch to develop and execute a strategic plan for Conseco.
“As Conseco looks forward to its next stage of growth, Bill Shea and the board agree that Bill Kirsch is ideally suited to successfully build a strong enterprise, drive long-term growth, achieve our goal of sustained operational excellence and create value for our shareholders,” Hilliard said in a statement. “Bill Kirsch has been a valued adviser to Conseco, and we are extremely pleased to have him take the helm.