Wetherell to step down as CMGI's chief executive

Troubled Internet investing firm CMGI Inc. has named a new CEO to replace David Wetherell.

George McMillan, the company's chief financial officer, will take over as CEO on March 1, the company said. McMillan came to CMGI in July from BMG Direct, a unit of Bertelsmann AG, an international media conglomerate in Gutersloh, Germany. Wetherell will stay on as chairman of CMGI's board, the company said in a statement.

Deidre Moore, spokeswoman for Andover, Mass.-based CMGI, said Wetherell's decision to step down was not recent. "A transition has been in the works for quite some time," she said.

In his role as CEO, McMillan will be responsible for CMGI's day-to-day operations, including the company's future business plans as it emerges from a corporate restructuring.

"When the CEO position became vacant, David wanted to bring in someone with a financial and operating background," Moore said.

Unlike Wetherell, who cut his base salary to US$1 from $530,000 for fiscal 2002 in recognition of the fact that the company wasn't profitable, McMillan will receive a salary, said Moore, who declined to elaborate.

"George's specific benefits package will be disclosed in a future (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) filing," she said.

CMGI, which operates portal and search engine AltaVista Co., interactive marketing firm Engage Inc., Internet professional services vendor Tallan Inc. and other Internet companies, reported a net loss of $5.45 billion last year.

In the heyday of the dot-com boom, CMGI's stock traded as high as $163 per share, far from the $1.39 per share at which the stock was trading this morning.

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