In Business This Week: HEADLINGER: STEPHEN HANKS
FILLING BILL AGEE'S LOAFERS
The Boise bombshell dropped on Feb. 9: After years of uninspiring results at Morrison Knudsen, free-spending CEO William Agee was out. Stephen Hanks, 44, is in--for now.
Hanks, named interim CEO, is a Morrison lifer who spent 10 years toiling in the legal department before Agee joined the company in 1988. Then, Hanks won a string of promotions, becoming one of Agee's closest allies.
In the wake of the board revolt that forced Agee's departure, Hanks' old friendship seems a liability. His main asset: He knows the company, "and he has been dealing with the banks," says director Zbigniew Brzezinski. Morrison's banks have threatened to pull $225 million in loan covenants. And Hanks will have to fend off two shareholder lawsuits.
The new CEO has also restored regular staff meetings and is bringing back to Boise some of the operations that Agee had decentralized.
Many Morrison employees are happy to have an insider running the show, but some want a CEO with engineering expertise. So far, directors aren't tipping their hand.EDITED BY KEITH H. HAMMONDS By Dori Jones Yang