BOSTON (07/26/2000) - Days after denying published reports that company Chairman Juan Villalonga would resign, Spain's Telefónica SA Wednesday announced that Villalonga has quit.
César Alierta, co-chairman of the European tobacco company Altadis, has been named to take Villalonga's place. Telefónica had seemed to deny a report published in the Madrid-based financial newspaper Cinco Días that said Villalonga had agreed to resign. [See "Telefónica Denies Chief's Resignation," July 14.]At that time, the company's international public relations director had refused to confirm the report and then declined further comment, but another public-relations department employee had confirmed the report but wouldn't give her name and referred inquiries to the international director.
Villalonga has been under fire for alleged insider trading of the company's stock. The Telefónica statement issued Wednesday said that it is being made jointly with Villalonga and that he proposed Alierta as the new chairman. The statement does not refer to the allegations, but does mention that Villalonga and Telefónica have a "commitment to act in favor of the company and its shareholders".
The statement further noted that the board appreciates Villalonga's work during his four years as chairman of the Madrid-based telecommunications company.
In May of this year, Villalonga was heavily involved in the announcement of a planned merger between Telefónica's Internet arm Terra Networks SA and U.S. Web portal provider Lycos Inc. valued at US$12.5 billion. As well as heading up Telefónica, Villalonga also held the position of Terra chairman. [See "Terra to Buy Lycos in US$12.5B Stock Deal," May 16.]Telefónica, in Madrid, can be reached at +34-91-584-4700 or http://www.telefonica.com/.