Tobacco companies Altria group announced that Howard Willard, chairman and chief executive, will resign after recovering from the new crown virus. His retirement took effect on April 14.
Howard Willard, chairman and CEO of Altria group, retired from Altria group.
Altria’s board elected Billy Gifford as CEO.
Altria’s board of directors separated the functions of chairman and CEO and appointed Thomas Farrell as independent chairman.
Willard invested $12.8 billion in Juul, the e-cigarette start-up, in 2018. Willard resigned as chief executive in March after being diagnosed with the new coronavirus more than a decade ago, and chief financial officer William Gifford Jr. will take over his job in his absence.
Willard, 56, is due to retire on April 14, but the company did not give details of the reasons for his retirement. A novel coronavirus is recovering from the disease at home, the spokesman said.
Gifford, 49, has been the company’s vice chairman and chief financial officer since May 2018. He joined Philip Morris USA in 1994 and has held a variety of leadership positions, including as CEO of a subsidiary of Philip Morris USA.
In an official statement, the board thanked Howard for his nearly 30 years of outstanding service to Altria and helped Altria set a 10-year vision direction to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non combustible future. Our selection of Gifford as the next CEO reflects the board’s belief that his collaborative leadership style, strategic thinking and deep financial and industry expertise will lead Altria to this future.
Gifford said it was natural to replace Howard as the new CEO because he knew the company’s financial situation.
In its new role at Gifford, the board also appointed Salvatore Mancuso as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Mancuso has worked in the company for more than 29 years and has held various leadership positions.
The board also decided to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer and to elect Thomas Farrell as independent chairman of the board, effective April 16.
Altria group has approximately 3300 employees in the Richmond area, including the cigarette factory on Interstate 95, the company’s headquarters on West Broad Street in Henrico, and the research center in the center of Richmond.