Equifax CEO Richard Smith retires
- Equifax's board announced the retirement of Richard Smith as CEO and Chairman of the Board, effective Tuesday, according to a company announcement.
- Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., former President, Asia Pacific, was appointed to interim CEO, and Mark Feidler, a current board member, was appointed as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. Equifax will immediately begin the search for a new CEO within and outside of the company's ranks.
- Smith reaffirmed his commitment to getting Equifax back on track after the company's massive data breach. "At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward," Smith said.
It is not uncommon for changes in company leadership following mass breaches or cyberattacks. Target's CEO resigned following its breach that impacted 40 million credit and debit card accounts. Home Depot faced an even larger-scale breach that resulted in company shakeups.
Equifax has been heavily criticized for how it handled the data breach. The firm discovered the outside intrusion on July 29 but did not disclose it to the public until September. Three executives also sold $1.8 million worth in shares just prior to the breach disclosure.
The mishandling of the breach has only mounted criticisms, and many have called for new leadership. There are more than 30 pending consumer lawsuits against the credit firm and a number of federal government investigations into how Equifax handled the incident. Whoever steps in as the firm's new CEO will have to navigate a delicate situation while ensuring the company's technology stack is modernized and prepared to withstand further cybersecurity incidents.