Level 3 CEO Storey to Take 2-Month Medical Leave of Absence

  • Storey, 54, seen making full recovery after heart surgery
  • Communications company joins others facing CEO medical issues

Level 3 Communications Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Storey will take a two-month medical leave to recuperate from surgery related to a heart condition.

Sunit Patel, Level 3’s chief financial officer, will serve as interim CEO, the Broomfield, Colorado-based communications provider said Wednesday in a statement. The procedure was successful, and Storey, 54, is expected to make a full recovery, the company said.

Level 3 is one of the largest companies used by Internet services including Netflix Inc. and Google Inc. to route traffic across the Web. The communications provider joins a group of companies that have had to contend with the temporary absence of their top executive. Airline United Continental Holdings Inc. is awaiting the return of CEO Oscar Munoz after a heart transplant, while Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. CEO Michael Pearson is on leave while recovering from severe pneumonia.

Storey was promoted to the CEO job in 2013 after about five years as chief operating officer. He’s a longtime telecommunications industry executive, with stints at Leucadia Telecommunications Group, WilTel Communications, Cox Communications Inc. and Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.

Shares of Level 3 fell 1.4 percent to $48 in late trading after the announcement. The stock has dropped 9.7 percent in the past year.

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