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Equifax CEO Smith Out

Former Communications execs fill in in interim 9/26/2017 11:09 AM Eastern

Equifax CEO Richard Smith is out in the wake of the massive data breach at the credit reporting company.

The company said Smith had "retired" effective immediately, with Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who has been president of Asia Pacific, for the company, taking over as interim CEO. Board member Mark Feidler will be non-executive chairman.

Smith will continue as an unpaid advisor during the search for a permanent replacement.

"The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident," said Feidler.

"We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize.  We have formed a Special Committee of the Board to focus on the issues arising from the incident and to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken."

Feidler and Barros are both familiar in communications circles, including some of the same ones.

Feidler is former president of of BellSouth before its 2006 merger with AT&T. Before that he was COO of Cingular Wireless. Barros was also an executive with BellSouth, as well as AT&T and Motorola.

A House hearing is slated for Oct. 3 on the data breach that exposed personal information of 143 million Americans. Smith had been slated to testify. (http://www.multichannel.com/news/congress/equifax-hearing-slated-oct-3/415240.

“A CEO walking out the door just days before he is to appear before Congress is an abdication of his responsibility," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Banking Committee. "This company has jeopardized the financial health and security of 143 million people, and they need to be held responsible." He said he expected Smith to show up next week "regardless of the timing of his retirement.”

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