Business & Finance

Phil Condit, who had led aerospace giant Boeing since 1996, resigned as chairman and chief executive in a move that took the business world by surprise. The company's board accepted, effective immediately, with what a spokesman called "great sadness." But it said in a later statement that "a new structure for the leadership ... is needed." The announcement sent Boeing shares into an immediate 49-cent drop in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Condit's move came less than a week after Boeing fired its chief financial officer and another senior executive for "unethical conduct," although Monday's statement drew no link to those dismissals. The company also is at the center of an ongoing controversy over a plan for the Air Force to lease for $21 billion, rather than buy, 100 Boeing 767 jets to be used as aerial refueling tankers. Harry Stonecipher, who retired as the company's chief executive officer last year, was appointed to succeed Condit.

Deep divisions in the leadership of the Walt Disney entertainment empire broke into the open as a retirement letter from its vice chairman argued that chief executive Michael Eisner is "no longer the best person to run" the company, adding: "It is my sincere belief that you should be leaving and not me." The letter by Roy Disney, nephew of the founder and the last member of the family to hold an active post in the company, accused Eisner of "muzzling" his voice on the board and blamed him for low employee morale, for failing to maintain constructive relationships with business partners, and for the perception that the Disney Co. is "rapacious, soulless, and always looking for the quick buck" rather than seeking to build long-term value. A company spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter, but a statement by presiding director and ex-US Sen. George Mitchell regretted Roy Disney's actions. The board recently recommended against another term for Disney because he is past the mandatory retirement age.

The chief of 148-year-old Skandia Insurance Co. resigned amid revelations that under his leadership senior managers broke rules, deceived shareholders, ignored decisions of the executive board, and continued to collect huge bonuses at a time when the company was losing money. Bengt Braun had been in the post only since April, although he was a longtime member of the board. Skandia, which conducts business worldwide, is based in Stockholm.

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