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Pan Am Chief Predicts Profit for This Year : Some Shareholders Ask Acker to Step Down

May 13, 1987|DENISE GELLENE | Times Staff Writer

The chairman of Pan American Corp. said Tuesday that the troubled airline company will be profitable this year, but some shareholders, weary from years of losses, called on him to resign.

However, Chairman C. Edward Acker said after the firm's annual meeting in Los Angeles: "I came here to do a job, and I'm going to do it." The company's principal subsidiary is Pan American World Airways.

Acker, who joined the company as chairman and chief executive in 1981, overwhelmingly won reelection to the company's board of directors.

But an employee stock ownership plan that controls 4% of Pan Am's shares voted its shares against him, a sign that some employees have grown disenchanted with Acker's leadership. Pan Am is seeking $180 million in wage and benefit concessions from its labor unions.

Criticism at Meeting

The three-hour annual meeting was punctuated with criticism of Acker, who has led the airline company through a period of turbulence in the last six years.

It had an especially bad year in 1986, when terrorism and the Soviet nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl scared American tourists into canceling European vacations. Pan Am lost $462.8 million last year.

Acker said the company's prospects are better this year, despite a first-quarter loss of $93.6 million. He said European traffic is up, as Europeans are planning vacations in the United States to take advantage of lower value of the dollar relative to their currencies.

But many shareholders expressed discouragement and urged Acker to sell the airline. Pan Am earlier retained Citicorp Investment Bank to explore several options, including a merger or sale.

Other shareholders criticized Acker's $500,000 annual salary as too large for an airline that steadily loses money.

Acker responded that he recently reduced his salary to $400,000 as part of an effort to reduce Pan Am's costs.

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