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Inman Resigns as Chief of Westmark Systems

December 28, 1989|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bobby Ray Inman, a former intelligence chief, has resigned as head of Westmark Systems Inc., a defense electronics contractor striving to pay for its $867-million buyout of Tracor Holdings Inc.

Westmark, whose sole holding is Tracor, said Inman "initiated the action after concluding that a transition in management would facilitate the long-term financial and organizational decisions which will be made at Westmark and Tracor."

Inman said that he made the decision in mid-December and that "the offers have begun to flow."

He said that his future would probably involve technology investments and that he will make a decision within six weeks.

Earlier, Inman told Business Week magazine that he planned to write a book about leveraged buyouts, the practice of using cash flow or asset sales to pay off money borrowed to buy a company.

Inman has held the positions of chairman, president and chief executive at both Tracor and Westmark since 1987.

Austin, Tex.-based Westmark announced that Elvis Mason, managing partner of Mason Best Co., was elected chairman and chief executive of Westmark on an interim basis.

Mason Best is a Dallas-based merchant bank that founded Westmark and is its largest shareholder. Mason served as chairman and chief executive of Westmark during its formation and as a director until two years ago.

William Moyer has been named acting president and chief executive of Tracor Holdings.

Westmark was created in 1986 to purchase electronics companies. It bought Tracor the following year.

But the Tracor purchase was funded with high-yield bonds, loading the company with high-cost debt. Declining margins have further squeezed the company, which announced this month that it was seeking to sell off assets to pay down the debt. Westmark has a $16-million interest payment on the junk bonds due Feb. 1.

Tracor produces advanced defense electronics systems. It also modifies commercial and government aircraft and makes analytical instruments and electrical components.

Although Inman, former director of the National Security Agency and deputy director of the CIA, has been given high marks for his leadership and organizational abilities, he has yet to translate those skills into success in competitive business markets.

Inman joined Westmark in 1987 after a five-year stint as organizer, then chief executive of Microelectronics & Computer Technology Corp., an Austin-based research consortium of many of the country's leading technology companies. At the time Inman left, the consortium was struggling with how to help its member companies translate its advances into marketplace advantages. Inman said he was hoping to use his new position with Westmark to identify and nurture young companies that were adept at doing just that.

Inman spent 30 years in the Navy and rose to the rank of admiral.

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