ATLANTA -- Following Southern Companys December board meeting today, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Allen Franklin announced the companys succession and management transition plan. As part of that plan, Franklin announced that he would be retiring in July 2004.
Franklin also announced that the Southern Company board of directors elected David M. Ratcliffe as a member of the board. Ratcliffe, currently president and chief executive officer of Georgia Power, will continue to serve as CEO of Georgia Power until April 2004, when he will become president of Southern Company. Ratcliffe will become chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Company in July 2004.
As part of the succession plan, the Georgia Power board today elected Mike Garrett, currently president and chief executive officer of Mississippi Power, president of Georgia Power effective Jan. 1, 2004. He will become CEO of Georgia Power in April 2004.
In Gulfport, the Mississippi Power board elected Anthony Topazi to replace Garrett as president and chief executive officer effective Jan. 1, 2004. Topazi currently serves as executive vice president of Southern Companys generation and energy marketing group.
Franklin, 59, has been with the company for 33 years. He said succession planning is a continuous process at Southern Company and that the timing for this transition has been in place for more than a year. It was simply the right time for me and a good time for the company, said Franklin.
This is a wonderful company and were stronger than weve ever beenboth operationally and financially. Not only have we achieved all of our business goals, weve built an incredibly strong management team that will keep this company moving forward for many years to come.
Franklin, who will retire from the board in July 2004, had praise for his successor, David Ratcliffe. Davids been involved in planning and implementing the Southern Company strategy at every step. He has exceptional business judgment and is a great team builder. The companys strategic direction will not change under his leadership, and David will carry on our success with the same disciplined and conservative management style.
Ratcliffe, 55, has 32 years of experience at Southern Company, having served as CEO of both Georgia Power and Mississippi Power and also as chief financial officer of Georgia Power. Ratcliffe also served as executive vice president for system operations, fuel, research and environmental affairs and marketing for Southern Company Services and as senior vice president for external affairs, where he had responsibility for the companys governmental affairs activities in Washington. He began his career with Southern Company as a biologist for Georgia Power in 1971. Ratcliffe is a native of Tifton, Ga., and a graduate of Valdosta State University.
Mike Garrett, 54, the incoming president of Georgia Power, also is a Georgia native. Garretts 35-year career at Southern Company began as an entry-level co-op student while still in college, and includes significant experience in customer operations and customer service at both Georgia Power and Alabama Power. Prior to assuming his current role as president and CEO of Mississippi Power in 2001, Garrett served as executive vice president of customer operations at Alabama Power.
Mike not only has a strong operating background but is very effective externally, said Franklin. In his role as CEO of Mississippi Power, Mike was a recognized leader in economic development in the state of Mississippi. Mike will be a valuable addition to Georgias business leadership.
Anthony Topazi, 53, is a 34-year veteran of the company who is currently serving as executive vice president of the generation and energy marketing group. Anthony has gained extensive experience in operations and customer service during his 30 years with Alabama Power, said Franklin. He has a strong experience base in economic development and was a key leader in Alabamas successful recruitment of the Mercedes plant. Anthony will quickly engage in Mississippis economic development activities.
Franklin said the companys business strategy has been focused on the basics. This strategy has led to the company having some of the industrys best performance in areas such as customer satisfaction, reliability and price competitiveness.
Franklin said he expects the new management transition to be seamless and the implementation of this successful strategy to continue. This succession plan will ensure a continuity of strategy and performance at Southern Company, he said. These individuals are indicative of the wealth of management talent weve built over the past several yearstalent that, I believe, is unmatched in our industry.
Franklin, Ratcliffe and Southern Company Chief Financial Officer Tom Fanning will hold a conference call for analysts on Monday, Dec. 8, 2003 at 4 p.m. (Eastern) to discuss the succession plan announcement. The conference call will be webcast live in a listen only mode. The Southern Company website is www.southerncompany.com.
With 4 million customers and nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company, an energy services business and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Southern Company has been named two consecutive years No. 1 on Fortune magazines Americas Most Admired Companies list in the Electric and Gas Utility industry. Southern Company has been ranked the nations top energy utility in the American Customer Satisfaction Index four years in a row, and in the latest survey tied for the highest score among all service industry companies. Southern Company has more than 500,000 shareholders, making its common stock one of the most widely held in the United States. Visit the Southern Company Web site at www.southerncompany.com.
Forward Looking Statements Note: Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning Southern Company`s continued forward movement, its continued success, and its continued implementation of a successful business strategy. Southern Company cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such indicated results will be realized.
The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Southern Company`s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2002, and subsequent securities filings, could cause results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory change, including legislative and regulatory initiatives regarding deregulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry and also changes in environmental and other laws and regulations to which Southern Company and its subsidiaries are subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; current and future litigation, including the EPA civil action against certain subsidiaries of Southern Company; the effects, extent and timing of additional competition in the markets in which Southern Company`s subsidiaries operate; the impact of fluctuations in commodity prices, interest rates and customer demand; state and federal rate regulation; political and legal conditions and developments in the
United States; the performance of projects undertaken by the non-traditional business and the success of efforts to invest in and develop new opportunities; internal restructuring or other restructuring options that may be pursued; potential business strategies, including acquisitions or dispositions of assets or businesses, which cannot be assured to be completed or beneficial to Southern Company or its subsidiaries; the ability of counterparties of Southern Company and its subsidiaries to make payments as and when due; the effects of, and changes in, economic conditions in the areas in which Southern Company`s subsidiaries operate, including the current soft economy; the direct or indirect effects on Southern Companys business resulting from the terrorist incidents on Sept. 11, 2001, or any similar such incidents or responses to such incidents; financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts; the timing and acceptance of Southern Company`s new product and service offerings; the ability of Southern Company to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; and weather and other natural phenomena.