American Tower’s Taiclet heads to Lockheed Martin

cellular tower
New CEO Tom Bartlett joined American Tower more than 10 years ago. (Getty Images)

American Tower CEO Jim Taiclet is leaving to become president and CEO of Lockheed Martin. The company named CFO Tom Bartlett to succeed Taiclet, effective immediately.

Taiclet joined American Tower in 2001 as president and COO, and became its CEO and chairman in 2003, succeeding company founder Steven Dodge. Taiclet will continue as executive chairman until the company’s 2020 annual meeting, after which Pamela Reeve, the company’s current lead independent director, will become non-executive chairman of the board, subject to her re-election at the annual meeting.

Taiclet currently serves on the board of Lockheed Martin, so the move wasn’t entirely out of the blue.

Analysts at Raymond James & Associates said they are encouraged that an industry and American Tower veteran like Bartlett will be taking over the helm and expect minimal changes to operations and strategy due to Taiclet leaving.

"We believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime type of appointment for the former fighter pilot, and absent recent volatility, Lockheed Martin has a similar market capitalization (~$90B) vs. AMT (~$100B),” wrote Raymond James analyst Ric Prentiss.

Bartlett has served as American Tower’s executive vice president and CFO for over 10 years, having joined the company from Verizon Communications in April 2009 after a career there of more than 25 years. During Bartlett’s tenure, American Tower’s total revenues have grown a whopping 375% and its enterprise value has expanded to $128 billion from $16 billion, according to a press release (PDF).

Rod Smith, the company’s current senior vice president, corporate finance and treasurer, will become the new CFO. Smith has been with the company for more than 10 years, including serving as CFO of the company’s U.S. tower division.

RELATED: American Tower, Crown, SBA get bump from T-Mobile deal

In a note for investors distributed over the weekend, analysts at New Street Research evaluated the market turmoil of the prior two weeks related to the COVID-19 and what it means for the communications companies in their coverage sphere, including towers.

Asked whether the pandemic would delay network investment, particularly the rollout of 5G, the wireless carriers they talked to all said a resounding “no.”

“The pandemic is impacting the flow of people, not goods, at this stage,” wrote New Street’s Jonathan Chaplin. “Investment plans would only be impacted if production halted or the flow of goods slowed. By way of example, none of the carriers have faced serious handset inventory problems yet, despite most handsets being manufactured in China,” which was the first country impacted by the disease.