Glen Post, CenturyLink’s long-running CEO, is going to retire from the company in May following the telco’s annual shareholder meeting, paving the way for Jeff Storey to take over the reins of the new company.
Post had previously announced his intention to retire on Jan. 1, 2019.
Jeff Storey, who serves as CenturyLink’s president and COO, will become CenturyLink's CEO and president when Post retires.
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CenturyLink did not provide a reason for Post’s decision to step down earlier than the original date other than to say that Storey had already proven himself as CEO of the service provider.
"After serving as CenturyLink's CEO for more than 26 years, I have decided to retire effective at this year's shareholders' meeting," Post said in a release. "While my original plan was to stay in my role through the end of 2018, Jeff has more than demonstrated his ability to assume this leadership role and I believe we should make this change sooner than originally planned.”
Post added that "while I will continue to serve the company as a board member, I will not assume the role of chairman of the board in order to ensure there is clarity that Jeff will be CenturyLink's new leader.”
The company also announced that Harvey Perry will remain in his role as chairman of the board of directors and Bruce Hanks has been appointed as lead independent director.
Storey praised Post for his leadership and laying a foundation he and the new team can build off of to serve its consumer and enterprise customers.
“Glen has done a tremendous job leading CenturyLink,” Storey said. “His vision has equipped CenturyLink with the capabilities to meet the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth, provide the digitalization of life for our consumer customers and address the evolving complexity for our enterprise customers."
Time of transformation
Post’s 26-year tenure as CEO will be remembered as a time of transformation from just another small-town telephone company into a global operator. A big element that Post led during this time was a rapid consolidation of the wireline telecom industry.
During his time as CEO of CenturyLink and its predecessor CenturyTel, Post enabled the telco to go from being an annual multimillion-dollar to a multibillion-dollar revenue company.
"Glen has led CenturyLink's impressive rise to be one of the world's premier communications companies," Perry said. "Under his leadership, CenturyLink's annual revenues have grown from $281 million in 1991 to approximately $24 billion, on a pro forma basis, in 2017 and total assets have increased from nearly $765 million in 1991 to over $75 billion at year end 2017."
A big part of that revenue shift has come from a mix of organic network growth and various acquisitions of other providers that brought not only network scale but also greater expertise in emerging areas like software and cloud services. Starting with Sprint’s former local telephone division Embarq, Qwest, Savvis and Level 3, these acquisitions helped CenturyLink not only expand its national presence but also gave it a foothold in large international markets including Europe and Latin America—a capability that makes the telco a larger competitive threat not only to AT&T and Verizon, but also other large providers like BT.
Already, the influence of CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3 is being seen in the Ethernet industry segment. The service provider surpassed AT&T as the largest Ethernet provider in terms of ports sold on Vertical Systems Group’s 2017 Year-end 2017 U.S. Ethernet Leaderboard. What’s interesting about this feat is that AT&T has held the number one spot on this list since 2005.
According to Vertical Systems Group, CenturyLink’s move was also a function of continued growth in Ethernet ports for both companies. Earlier, Level 3 ranked second to AT&T and CenturyLink ranked fifth on the Mid-2017 U.S. Ethernet Leaderboard.
Focus on execution
As CEO, Jeff Storey will bring his ability to execute and integrate large assets from other companies into a common fold. During his tenure at Level 3, Storey led two of that company’s largest acquisitions of tw telecom and Global Crossing. Like the deals CenturyLink made in recent years, these deals not only gave the former Level 3 scale but also helped provide them with a set of global capabilities while paving a path for SDN-based services that should mesh with CenturyLink’s efforts.
Perry said that Storey has already been laying the groundwork to ensure that the integration of the two providers will be beneficial not only to the company but also to its customers.
“Jeff has worked tirelessly to make the integration a success,” Perry said. “He has a proven track record, and we are highly confident in his ability to take the reins from Glen and push our vision forward."