Stepping Out Of The Picture

The top job isn't the only one open at Eastman Kodak. Ever since Chairman Kay Whitmore got his walking papers from the board in August, his fellow executives have been retiring at a rapid clip. Insiders say the exodus of top people, along with the delay in replacing Whitmore, is hobbling decision-making on major issues.

Of the 10,000 jobs Whitmore vowed to cut, only a few hundred have been identified--and none axed yet. And there's doubt that the planned move of the North American imaging marketing group to Washington from headquarters in Rochester, N.Y.--meant to shake off its alleged insularity--will happen. Morale is subterranean now.

Latest to announce his retirement is William Fowble, 55, the No.2 executive in the core imaging group, which handles film and the like. Two top corporate jobs also are vacant: senior vice-president for communications and public affairs, and top human-resources executive. The company has been without a chief financial officer since Christopher Steffen abruptly resigned in April.

Insiders are abuzz over the futures of the top two line executives, who have been told by the board they aren't candidates for the CEO slot. Speculation is that Wilbur "Bill" Prezzano, 52, who heads the $5.1 billion health-care division, is mulling a departure if the new CEO changes his responsibilities. Leo "Jack" Thomas, 57, the imaging honcho, also is rumored to be frustrated and considering his options. None of these Kodak folks would comment.

What's next? The board has a meeting slated for Nov. 12, but an announcement on Whitmore's successor could take longer.