Richard Smith is out as Chairman and CEO of Equifax.
Equifax CEO and Chairman Richard Smith stepped down Tuesday, becoming the latest executive of the credit-reporting giant to step down following a massive cyberbreach that compromised personal information for 143 million U.S. consumers.
Announcing that Smith’s retirement would take effect immediately, the company named current board member Mark Feidler to serve as non-executive chairman. Paulino do Rego Barros, a seven-year Equifax veteran who most recently served as president of Asia Pacific, was appointed as interim CEO, pending a search for a permanent successor in that post.
Smith, 57, a former General Electric executive, exits after serving at Equifax’s chief executive since 2005. Despite the controversy surrounding his departure, he has won company plaudits for leading growth that produced total shareholder return of 294% compared with 145% for the S&P 500 Index, according to the preliminary 2017 proxy statement Equifax filed in March.
As of Dec. 31, 2016, the value of Smith’s accumulated retirement benefits stood at nearly $18.4 million, according to the proxy statement.
However, a regulatory filing Tuesday said Smith agreed with the company to defer any characterization of his departure and decisions on benefits owed to him, pending completion of the Equifax board of directors’ review of the cyberbreach. Both sides also agreed that Smith won’t receive a potential bonus for 2017, the filing said.
Smith will stay on for up to 90 days, without pay, to provide assistance to the company.
“The board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident,” Feidler said in a statement issued with the announcement. “We are working intensely to support consumers and make necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again.”
Trading in Equifax shares was halted briefly before U.S. financial markets opened, pending the announcement.
Smith is the third executive whose Equifax career was ended by the cyberbreach and subsequent criticism of the company’s cybersecurity precautions — as well as its handling of consumer response after the…