Altria CEO Retires as He Recovers From Coronavirus Infection

Altria Chief Executive Howard Willard retired after a 28-year career with the cigarette maker and as he is recovering from a coronavirus infection.
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Altria  (MO) - Get Report Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Willard retired as he recovers from a coronavirus infection. 

Willard, 55, has been with Altria for 28 years and was named CEO in May 2018. 

Altria also said it was separating the roles of chairman and CEO. 

The Richmond, Va., company's board elected 25-year veteran Billy Gifford to take over as CEO. Gifford has held other senior positions at the company, including most recently vice chairman and chief financial officer. Gifford at one point also was president and CEO of Philip Morris.

Thomas Farrel, formerly the board's independent presiding director, will take over as independent chairman. 

In a statement Farrel said Willard "set the course for Altria’s 10-year vision to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future.”  

Gifford's "collaborative leadership style, strategic mindset and deep financial and industry expertise are right to lead Altria towards that future,” he said. 

Altria's board also named Salvatore Mancuso executive vice president and CFO. Manusco has been with the company for 29 years.

Altria shares at last check rose 2.1% to $41.25. The stock is down about 20% year to date.