Greg Penner has been named new Wal-Mart vice chairman, putting him on course to succeed Chairman Rob Walton.
On top of the new role, Penner, 44, will act as chairman in the absence of Walton, the world’s largest retail chain announced today at its yearly investor conference. Penner is son-in-law to Walton and has been on the company’s board since 2008.
“One of the board’s most important responsibilities is long-term succession planning, and the company spends considerable time planning for stability and continuity. I’m excited about Greg working closely with me, the board and the management team in guiding Wal-Mart into the future,” stated Walton as quoted by Bloomberg.
The latest appointment reinforces the Walton’s family grip of Wal-Mart’s board in the wake of investor clamor for more independent members. Rob Walton, who is 69 years old, is Sam Walton’s son, Wal-Mart’s founder in 1962. Jim C., Walton’s brother, is also on the retailer’s board. The family owns more than 50% of Wal-Mart’s stocks.
Institutional Shareholder Services Inc, which invests as well as advises, last month repeated its call for Wal-Mart to have a non-Walton family member as chairman. A suggestion presented at Friday’s conference would have formalized it as Wal-Mart’s practice to appoint a chairman who has no close interests in the firm.
Wal-Mart rejected the idea, citing that it already drew a distinction between the chief executive officer and chairman duties and responsibilities in 1988, allowing the chairman to handle oversight and governance issues only. Current Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon, who ascended into the position in February, is not a Walton’s family relation.
According to Reuters, the Friday’s announcement comes at a time when Wal-Mart’s same-store sales in the US are dropping and the company is struggling to shake off a corruption scandal at its Mexico division. The bribery case has seen the retailer lose more than $500 million since 2012.
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