Mary Dillon leaves U.S. Cellular, replaced by TDS exec Kenneth Meyers

U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) said CEO Mary Dillon left the company and has been replaced by Kenneth Meyers, a longtime wireless and telecom executive and a veteran of Telephone & Data Systems, U.S. Cellular's parent company.

U.S. Cellular Mary Dillon


Meyers took the helm officially on Saturday, U.S. Cellular said. Dillon is leaving to become CEO of Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance, effective on July 1. Meyers joined U.S. Cellular in 1987 and has held several senior management positions, including executive vice president and CFO. Meyers became CFO of TDS in 2007.

On a conference call with the media today, Meyers noted that the company is in the process of rolling out an LTE network and said it will have 90 percent of its customer base covered by year-end. He also noted that U.S. Cellular will be offering Apple NASDAQ:AAPL) products by year-end. 

In May, the company announced it would begin offering Apple devices, including the iPhone. This was a reversal from its previous position. In 2011 U.S. Cellular said it would not launch the iPhone because it did not make financial sense.

Dillon was the head of U.S. Cellular for a little more than three years, and was notably the only female chief executive of a major U.S. wireless carrier. She also recently served as the chairwoman of CTIA.

Before being named CEO of U.S Cellular in May 2010, Dillon was  the global chief marketing officer and executive vice president at McDonald's, and was responsible for the chain's worldwide marketing efforts and global brand strategy. She also served as the president of the Quaker Foods division of PepsiCo. Dillon focused on improving the U.S. Cellular brand and the carrier's customer experience.

However, Dillon's tenure was marked by continued subscriber weakness, as U.S. Cellular struggled to add postpaid customers despite moving more of its subscriber base to smartphones. 

Additionally, U.S. Cellular sold some of its major Midwestern markets and spectrum to Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) for $480 million in a deal that closed last month. As part of the action, U.S. Cellular shed around 1,000 jobs and 585,000 customers, or about 10 percent of U.S. Cellular's total customer base.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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