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O'Green to Retire as Litton Chairman

March 12, 1988|RALPH VARTABEDIAN | Times Staff Writer

Litton Industries Chairman Fred W. O'Green will step down on March 31, and he expects to be succeeded by Litton President and Chief Executive Orion L. Hoch.

The company said its board plans to elect Rolond O. Peterson president and chief operating officer and Joseph T. Casey vice chairman and chief financial officer, a new position.

O'Green, 66, became chairman and chief executive in 1981, only the second chief executive in the history of the company. He succeeded Charles B. (Tex) Thornton, a co-founder of the diversified company.

O'Green put a strong mark on Litton, substantially refocusing the company in a massive restructuring that involved the divestiture of 25 corporate divisions. Former Litton executives and securities analysts praised O'Green and said he is leaving the company in good shape.

"He disassembled the house that Thornton built, which had a lot of parts that were out of sync," said Laurence Lytton, an analyst at Drexel Burnham Lambert. "He rationalized the company."

Roy Ash, former Litton president and a co-founder, remarked: "Fred is one of the world's experts in defense electronics, and certainly during his time he brought the company to a position of leadership."

Ash added: "Companies should focus around their strength and Fred has focused around his strength."

Litton posted a sharp 94% increase in profit in fiscal 1987, but it was still less than half of the profit posted in 1985. While its defense business has done well in recent years, its petroleum industry services has been hurt by difficult market conditions.

The company has suffered a sharp drop in revenue and profit in its resource exploration services area, in which O'Green made a $190-million acquisition in 1984. The company was later forced to take a $110-million writedown in that area.

Peterson, the new president-designate, is currently a Litton senior vice president. Casey is an executive vice president and chief financial officer. Both Hoch and Casey are members of the board's executive committee.

Joined Staff in 1962

O'Green moved to Litton in 1962 from Lockheed, where he was technical director of Lockheed space programs and assistant general manager of the firm's space division. Ash, the former president, credits O'Green with the strong growth in Litton's defense electronics operations, which include such things as electronic warfare equipment, communications gear and radar warning receivers. He progressed through various jobs and was made president in 1972.

When O'Green became chief executive in 1981, he inherited a difficult labor situation in which Litton had a number of bitter disputes with its unions. O'Green eventually made his peace and formed a special labor management committee.

Hoch, 59, has been chief executive of Litton since 1986 and president and a director since 1982, when he rejoined the company.

Hoch began his Litton career at the company's electron devices division in 1957. He left Litton in 1974 to be president of Advanced Memory Systems in Cupertino and returned to Litton in 1982 as president, chief operating officer and a director.

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