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Symantec Dumps Its CEO

Installs its chairman, former Intuit CEO Steve Bennett, in his place

Symantec Wednesday pushed its CEO and president of three years Enrique Salem out and installed its chairman, former Intuit CEO Steve Bennett, in his place. Shares rose a cheery 13.5% to $14.96 on the news.

"While progress has been made over the last three years in many areas," Bennett said in a statement, "it was the board's judgment that it was in the best interests of Symantec to make a change in the CEO."

"My view is that Symantec's assets are strong and yet the company is underperforming against the opportunity. I'm looking forward to working with the team to build upon the significant assets in place to help Symantec accelerate value creation for all of its stakeholders."

He intends to follow up on Symantec's push into mobile security. He also intends to conduct a 90- to 120-day review and interview customers, employees and partners to figure out what's wrong.

It could lead to an asset sale and a dividend as shareholders have agitated for.

Dan Schulman, now lead independent director, said nothing specific triggered the unexpected move.

Symantec, the Norton antivirus company that got into storage software when it foolishly bought Veritas for $10.2 billion in 2005, has been the victim of slow sales and receding profits. Its stock never recovered from the Veritas deal. Meanwhile, its antivirus rival McAfee went to Intel.

Bennett, who spent 23 years at GE accumulating turnaround experience, has been on the Symantec board since 2010 and was named chairman last year. He will remain chairman. He's also on the board of Qualcomm, American Airlines and its parent company AMR.

He is credited with driving Intuit sales from under a billion to $2.7 billion between 2000 and 2007.

Symantec released its Q1 results Wednesday morning with the news of Salem's ouster. It returned a better-than-expected 43 cents a share on revenues up 1% to $1.67 billion. It Q2 outlook was below expectations.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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