Palmisano Named IBM Chairman

Big Blue's board of directors finalizes transition from the Gerstner era.

IBM President and CEO Sam Palmisano will become the companys chairman of the board at the beginning of next year.

Big Blues board of directors on Tuesday elected Palmisano chairman effective Jan. 1, 2003. Palmisano will replace Louis Gerstner, the former president and CEO, who will retire from the Armonk, N.Y., company and board at the end of the year.

Palmisano took over as CEO in March, after serving as president and chief operating officer. He has been with IBM since 1973, starting as a sales representative in Baltimore and working his way up the corporate ladder, achieving leadership posts among most of the companys divisions.

Since assuming the CEO role, Palmisano has overseen the $3.5 billion acquisition of Pricewaterhouse Cooper LLPs consulting business earlier this month, the outsourcing of the manufacturing of its desktop PCs and the upcoming sale of its Storage Technology Division to Hitachi Ltd.

Also, in September, IBM announced it was laying off 15,000 workers, or about 5 percent of its global workforce, most of which were tied to the companys services unit. At the end of 2001, IBM employed about 320,000 workers worldwide.