Hans Vestberg to Replace Lowell McAdam as Verizon CEO

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam - Getty H 2016
Courtesy of Getty Images

The Sweden-born former CEO of Ericsson has been serving as chief technology officer and will take on the role in August.

Verizon Communications on Friday said that chief technology officer Hans Vestberg, who joined the company about a year ago, will take over the CEO post from Lowell McAdam on Aug. 1.

McAdam, 64, will remain executive chairman until the end of the year and then become non-executive chairman.

Vestberg, 52, was tapped over John Stratton, Verizon's president of global operations. Stratton, 57, will retire later this year.

His current responsibilities include developing the architecture for Verizon’s fiber-centric networks and a global internet backbone and undersea cable network for internet traffic. "In this role, Vestberg has spearheaded Verizon’s efforts to deliver seamless experiences for customers over the company’s network, while demonstrating a willingness to disrupt established processes and practices to make Verizon stronger and more efficient," the company said.

McAdam was named CEO on Aug. 1, 2011, and chairman on Jan. 1, 2012.

Sweden-born Vestberg has served as executive vp and president of global networks and chief technology officer. Before joining Verizon, he served for six years as president and CEO of Swedish networking and telecommunications equipment and services giant Ericsson.

Analysts will look for clues for how he thinks about potential dealmaking. Wireless titans have been looking for deals as the U.S. market has matured. AT&T, after acquired satellite TV giant DirecTV in 2015, is waiting for a regulatory decision on its planned $85 billion takeover of Time Warner. 

McAdam and his team have recently reiterated that the telecom giant wasn't hunting for an acquisition of a big entertainment company despite the telecom giant's reported past interest in a possible bid for CBS Corp. McAdam in January had said that "there is nothing going on right now with us considering a large media play." He added: "You have to look at whether being a big independent distributor is a reasonable alternative to owning content," concluding, "Being independent is a very good place to play for us right now."

McAdam said on Friday: “I strongly believe in the power of change to drive long-term growth and innovation. For Verizon, the time for a change in leadership is now, and I am confident that Hans is the right person to bring Verizon through its next chapter. Hans is an energizing force who will continue to position Verizon to lead the fourth industrial revolution — the emergence of technologies that blend the physical and the digital to create historic breakthroughs in connectivity and mobility."

Said Vestberg: “I am humbled to be appointed CEO of Verizon at such an exciting and dynamic time for our company and industry. We are experiencing unprecedented changes in the way users interact in the digital world, and we are racing ahead to remain at the forefront of technology, connectivity and mobility. To know Lowell is to be inspired by his vision for Verizon’s role in shaping the future. I look forward to building on this momentum while continuing to focus on strengthening our customer relationships, and driving growth and profitability throughout the business to deliver long-term value."

Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said in a first reaction: "With this announcement, we see now more than any other time, perhaps, how very different a road and direction Verizon is going from its closest peer (AT&T), which we continue to believe is on the verge of becoming a large content owner."