After co-founding Level 3 and spending more than 20 years with the Internet backbone provider, Kevin O’Hara has stepped down as the company’s president and chief operating officer.

"Kevin O'Hara has worked closely with me for more than 20 years and this was obviously a difficult decision for both of us," said Jim Crowe, chief executive officer of Level 3. "Kevin is one of the founders of our company and has made enormous contributions to its success. I want to personally thank him for his professionalism and commitment to our company over the many years we've been together. At this time, however, Kevin and I have agreed that a different perspective will be of benefit to our company."

Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3 also announced today that Sunit Patel, the company’s current chief financial officer, will continue in the role of CFO after Level 3 discontinued its search for a new CFO.

Patel had said in October that he was planning on resigning from Level 3.

Neil Hobbs, currently executive vice president, sales and network services, has been appointed to the newly-created position of executive vice president, operations. Hobbs and Crowe will be assuming O'Hara's former responsibilities going forward. Crowe was also named president of Level 3.

As part of the internal finance organization changes, the company appointed Neel Dev to the new position of senior vice president, finance with responsibility for financial planning, budgeting and analysis for operations and the company's customer facing market groups.

Following the news of O’Hara’s departure, Level 3’s stock shares dipped 11 percent in early morning trading today.

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