Channel-friendly Xerox chief executive Rick Thoman resigned from the company last week on the same day that the printing and copier giant officially opened its consolidated European operations in Ireland.
In what many analysts said was a strange omen, the Xerox board accepted Thoman's resignation last Thursday and brought back chairman and former chief executive Paul Allaire to hold the reins.
The board also promoted Anne Mulcahy as the company's president and chief operating officer.
Against a backdrop of poor financial performance (CRN, 3 May), job cuts and restructuring, analysts are sceptical that Thoman left of his own accord and have suggested that he might have been ousted by the board.
"They (chief executives) don't often leave voluntarily," said Charles LeCompte, president of analyst Lyra Research. "They often have to be blasted out."
But a Xerox representative denied any precipitating event led to Thoman's departure.
LeCompte said people have been predicting Thoman would be removed ever since the company's fortunes took a downturn last year. Thoman was known as a champion of Xerox's struggling channels group.
"Xerox has sold mostly through its famous direct sales force, but it is hard to sell desktop printers in that way," LeCompte said. "So he developed the channels group. It has grown, but it is struggling."
On a happier note, Xerox brought in Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to officially open its business support centre in Dublin last week, part of a $420m (£275.3m) investment in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Xerox has also launched a manufacturing facility in Dundalk for ink-jet printer components.
Xerox hopes to shift focus from being an analogue copier business to an IT company and the centre in Dublin will act as the "heart and lungs of the company", according to Bill Goode, deputy managing director at Xerox Europe.
Goode said that consolidation in Dublin was not a relocation but a "transformation into a pan European entity". He declined to comment on any further job cuts.
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