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Convergys changes CEO

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 7:15am
Dan Sewell, AP Business Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) – Business services outsourcing provider Convergys Corp. said Wednesday that former Alltel Corp. executive Jeff Fox will take over as president and CEO.

The Cincinnati-based company said David Dougherty, who led the company less than three years, will stay on as a consultant.

The company said Fox, 47, has agreed to head Convergys at least one year. The former chief operating officer of wireless provider Alltel became a Convergys board member a year ago.

Convergys Chairman Philip Odeen said the board decided it was time for a new leader.

"The board believes we need greater focus on effective execution, revenue growth and improved profitability," Odeen said.

The global leader in call center, billing and other customer relations services has seen its growth falter during the recession. It recently reported a 2009 profit of $77.3 million, down from a profit of $92.9 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 1 percent, to $2.83 billion from $2.79 billion.

The company has forecast 2010 sales will fall to about $2.6 billion.

The company recently eliminated an undisclosed number of jobs, among other changes Dougherty had described as "difficult but necessary actions to further streamline costs and pursue operating improvements."

An industry expert said the CEO switch wasn't surprising.

"They obviously wanted to make a change, because they've had a hard time," said Donna Fluss, president of DMG consulting.

Fluss said Dougherty headed the company during a tough economy, but she said some competitors such as India-based Genpact, formerly owned by General Electric Co., have been increasing revenues at the same time.

Convergys has 70,000 employees in 30 countries, with the largest overseas operation now in the Philippines.

Convergys says its clients include more than half of the Fortune 50 companies. It made its biggest mark in outsourcing call center operations and has expanded into human resources outsourcing and other services.

During 13 years with Little Rock, Ark.-based Alltel, Fox held a number of roles before becoming COO in 2007. Verizon Wireless bought Alltel in 2008.

Fox earlier worked in investment banking at Stephens Inc. and Merrill Lynch and is president of The Circumference Group, a consulting and investment firm for technology and telecommunications.

Convergys veteran Dougherty, now 53, in 2007 succeeded retired CEO James F. Orr, who had led the company from its inception. It was spun off from Cincinnati Bell in 1998.

Both Orr and Dougherty formerly worked for Cincinnati-based consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co.

Convergys shares were up 4 cents to $10.92 in early trading. They have traded between $5.49 and $11.97 in the past 52 weeks, with the high still less than half of the share price this time three years ago.

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