Loral Chief Stepping Down

Bernard L. Schwartz says now is the right time.
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Loral Space & Communications

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chief Bernard L. Schwartz will retire March 1.

Schwartz has been CEO of the New York-based company and its predecessors for 34 years. He has led the former Loral Corp. since 1972. That company sold its defense operations to

Lockheed

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in 1996, leaving the Loral Space business in Schwartz's hands. Loral Space subsequently filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2003, after sinking billions into the money-losing Globalstar satellite business just as demand for new satellites and satellite network services dried up.

"For some time, I have been considering at what point it would be appropriate for me to step down as chairman and chief executive officer of Loral," Schwartz said in a letter to the space company's board. "With the start of the New Year and the intersection of several significant achievements -- Loral's successful emergence from Chapter 11, our re-listing on a major stock exchange and my attainment of a milestone birthday -- I have concluded that now is the right time to activate our succession plans and pass the reins of the company on to our extremely talented team of executives. Thanks to their efforts, both of our businesses are on very solid footing and our employees are enthused about our future."

Of Schwartz's leadership of the earlier Loral, the press release says, "Under his guidance, that company posted 96 consecutive quarters of increased earnings through its successful strategy of acquisition and internal development. Loral's market value rose from $7.5 million to $15 billion between 1972 and 1996, when the defense businesses were divested."

On Wednesday, Loral shares fell 63 cents to $25.95.