Verizon CFO Shammo to retire after 6 years up front in tumultuous telecom industry

Fran Shammo
Fran Shammo

Verizon’s Fran Shammo is stepping down from his role as executive vice president and chief financial officer in November, and plans to retire from his 27-year career with the carrier by the end of 2016, the company announced Thursday.

Shammo will be succeeded by Matt Ellis, currently senior vice president and CFO – Operations Finance.

Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon, praised Shammo’s work over the years in a media release, adding that “While Fran will be greatly missed, I respect his decision to retire, and I am pleased that he will stay through year-end to ensure a smooth transition."

Shammo’s tenure as a Verizon executive took place during tumultuous times for the telecommunications industry, as legacy networks began to be replaced by IP-based networks and competitors like cable MSOs stole away part of its residential and business revenues. Prior to taking the reins as CFO in 2010, he led Verizon Telecom and Business as president and CEO, and before that, was president of Verizon Business (now Verizon Enterprise Solutions).

Back in 2009, Shammo talked with FierceTelecom about the challenges of building the business unit’s brand presence, particularly in international markets, at a time when business services hadn’t caught fire to the degree it recently has. “What I would say from that perspective is they view us as a network company, but we're a lot more than that,” he said.

However, by 2014, Verizon was positioning IP-based enterprise services as a key part of its strategy, with Shammo predicting that the segment, like FiOS before it, would eventually outpace revenues from TDM-based legacy services.

Verizon also took full ownership of its wireless business that year from Vodafone plc, with Shammo leading the team to fund the $130 million needed for the transaction.

Wireless backhaul also became an important strategic focal point, providing Verizon with the impetus to continue building out fiber networks to support 4G wireless networks and lay the groundwork for 5G technologies. That led eventually to Verizon’s acquisition of XO Communications’ fiber assets in early 2016 for $1.8 billion, building breadth and depth in the networks with which it supports both enterprise and backhaul efforts.

"… we actually pay a lot to third parties to carry our traffic to the last mile, [so] this gives us the capability to move some of that traffic over to our own network when we close the deal," Shammo said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in March.

Verizon had to juggle its priorities somewhat under Shammo’s tenure as CFO in order to balance out the cost of capital expenditures while revenues rose and fell in various company segments – particularly between next generation and legacy technology areas. The service provider halted its buildout of FiOS FTTH to residential areas in 2011, concentrating instead on building penetration in places where the fiber-optic service was already available. And Verizon reportedly may sell off some of its data center assets this fall, such as Terremark, which it originally acquired in 2011.

For more:
- see the release
- see this Bloomberg article

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