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News > Companies
'Chainsaw Al' aide fired
June 18, 1998: 2:00 p.m. ET

Sunbeam's directors removes CFO Russell Kersh, Dunlap's deputy
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - 'Chainsaw Al' Dunlap may be out at Sunbeam Corp., but the timber keeps falling in the wake of the firm's tough-talking former chief executive officer.
     The latest branch snapped earlier this week, when Sunbeam's board of directors fired Russell Kersh, the home appliance maker's vice chairman and chief financial officer and a longtime aide to Dunlap, according to published reports.
     "A notice has been served to him that he has been fired," Ron Richter, a company spokesman, told Reuters Thursday. "He was released two days ago by the board."
     Richter could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
     Dunlap's removal was announced Monday, following a weekend meeting at which the company's five independent directors expressed dismay that his slash-and-burn approach to corporate streamlining had failed to lift the company's stock price. In a terse statement, Peter Langerman, the board director who spearheaded the drive to oust Dunlap, said he had "lost confidence" in Dunlap's leadership and his forecasts.
     In nearly two years at Sunbeam, Dunlap had eliminated more than half the company's 12,000 jobs. But any cost savings achieved were largely overshadowed by Wall Street's concern about the company's swooning stock price, which had fallen from a peak of 53 in early March to below 20 at the end of last week.
     Shares of Sunbeam (SOC) continued to slip this week. The stock was off 1/16 at 13-1/2 in midday trading Thursday.
     To replace Dunlap, the directors named Jerry Levin, the CEO of Revlon Inc. who gave up that post to take Sunbeam's top job. As chairman, the directors appointed Langerman, an adviser to Michael Price, the president of Franklin Mutual Series Fund Inc., which owns a 17.4 percent equity stake in Sunbeam.
     In the hours after Dunlap's ouster, Kersh's fate remained in limbo. According to one report, Langerman initially assured Kersh that his job wasn't on the line. But in firing Kersh, the board flushed the company's top ranks of Dunlap's influence.
     Levin has made it a point to stress that he eschews Dunlap's penchant for grandstanding about his successes, preferring to focus on Sunbeam's current reality: a bleak balance sheet.
     On May 11, Sunbeam reported a first- quarter loss of $44.6 million, or 52 cents a share. The company said this week, however, that it continued to incur operating losses in the second quarter and would fall short of previous earnings forecasts. Back to top

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