Tyson's Time To Fly The CoopStephanie Anderson Forest
Insider trading charges. Cattle futures. Mike Espy. It hasn't been the sort of send-off that Don Tyson might have expected after 50 years in the chicken business. Besides the investigations into his company's controversial ties to the Clinton Administration, Tyson Foods under Tyson last year lost a hostile bid to take over a turkey producer. It also had to take the first major write-off in its history.
No matter: On Jan. 13, Tyson announced he would step down as the company's chairman come Apr. 21. The decision, he says, "had nothing whatsoever" to do with questions about his relationship with the Clintons. Tyson says he is leaving because he wants to honor a little-known contract he signed a decade ago that called for him to retire on his 65th birthday.
"I started with this company at 14. I've put in 50 years, and now it's time to move on," says Tyson, whose father founded the poultry giant as a one-truck business in 1935. He will be succeeded by Leland Tollett. But Tyson still will head the board's executive finance committee.