Sun Appoints Familiar Faces as CFO, Board

The company's appointments shuffle its financial management heads, with new board member Robert Finocchio taking new CFO Michael Lehman's place on the audit team.

Sun Microsystems has appointed Michael Lehman as its chief financial officer, effective Feb. 22, while Robert Finocchio has been elected to the companys board of directors.

Stephanie Von Allmen, a spokesperson for Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif., told eWEEK that Finocchio, who is a 30-year veteran of the financial and high-tech industries, would also join Suns audit committee and that he qualified as an "audit committee financial expert" under SEC rules.

Lehman headed the audit committee before stepping down to become CFO, Von Allmen said, adding that Sun has not yet named a new head for that committee.

Lehman will replace current CFO Steve McGowan, who has served as Suns CFO and executive vice president of corporate resources since July 2002, and who announced his plans to retire from the post last October.

McGowan will remain at Sun as executive vice president of finance and will work closely with Lehman to ensure a seamless transition, Von Allmen said. Both men will report directly to Scott McNealy, Suns chairman and CEO.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Suns hardware and software packages for retailers, provided jointly with IBM.

Lehman, who was Suns CFO from 1998 to 2002 and has served on the companys board of directors in various capacities, has been a business consultant to the company since 2002. He also sat on the boards of Echelon, NetIQ and MGIC Investment, where he will maintain his director position, she said.

In January, Sun reported a net loss of $223 million, or 7 cents per share, in its fiscal second quarter ending in December, compared with a year-ago net profit of $4 million, or nil per share. Revenue rose 17 percent from $2.84 billion to $3.34 billion.

Asked whether the shuffle of all of these existing members of its existing executive financial team was an indication of some deeper underlying executive management or board concern about the companys financial filings or position, Von Allmen said this was "absolutely not the case."

"We launched an extensive search to replace Steve, both internally and externally, and it just turns out that Mike Lehman wanted to come back and the executive team and the board felt that he was the most qualified candidate," she said. "He has blue-chip credentials and a long and successful history with Sun and we are thrilled to have him back in this role."

Some analysts agreed with that assessment. Michael Dortch, the principal business analyst for the Robert Frances Group in San Francisco, told eWEEK that the appointments showed both cleverness and class.

"Lehman as CFO makes a lot of sense, given his soon-to-be-former role on the companys audit committee, while Finocchio brings a level of experience and gravitas Sun was unlikely to find if it went looking for a younger, leaner and/or hungrier candidate, especially outside of IT. Sun could use another gray-hair or two among its senior management ranks. Finocchio certainly qualifies, literally and figuratively," he said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about earlier management shakeups and earnings pressure for Sun.

Scott McNealy said in a statement that the company "takes great pride in its impeccable reputation as a transparent and compliant organization. With the addition of Bob to Suns board and the appointment of Mike as Suns new CFO, Im 100 percent confident that the strong tradition will continue, and I look forward to working with them both in their new roles."

For his part, Lehman said he believed he could more effectively serve Suns shareholders, customers, employees and other stakeholders by participating directly in the day-to-day operations and fiduciary leadership of the company.

"Having now tried retirement briefly, I find that I like being involved in leading change and driving the business more directly. The strength of the new product lines, the tremendous success of the open and free Solaris 10 operating system coupled with the opportunity within the StorageTek portfolio leads me to believe Sun can deliver more value to customers than HP, IBM and others combined," he said in a statement.

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