Adelphia Communications Corp. is about to erase the last remaining vestiges
of its disgraced founding family with the pending departure of four board
members hired under the tenure of former chairman John Rigas.
The four -- Mannesmann Dematic Colby Systems managing director Pete Metros,
Caithness Corp. president and chief operating officer Leslie Gelber, former
Fleet Bank New York chairman and CEO Erland Kailbourne and FPL Group Inc.
general counsel and secretary Dennis Coyle, all of whom were named to the board
under Rigas -- have agreed to step down as new independent board members are
Adelphia said it has not determined replacements for the four board members,
but it has hired executive-search firm Spencer Stuart to identify potential
In a statement, Metros, Gelber, Kailbourne and Coyle said jointly that the
time was right to leave -- Adelphia's operations have been stabilized and a new
management team has been recruited.
John Rigas, his sons -- former chief financial officer Timothy and former
executive vice president of operations Michael -- former assistant treasurer
Michael Mulcahey and former VP of finance James Brown were indicted on fraud
charges in September.
Brown pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud in November in exchange for his
testimony at trial.
The Rigases and Mulcahey have pleaded not guilty. A trial is set for
Adelphia chairman and CEO Bill Schleyer -- hired in March after he left
AT&T Broadband, which was acquired by Comcast Corp. in November -- had said
in the past that he would seek to reconfigure the board.
He has already made two new additions -- former Federal Communications
Commission member Susan Ness and former Time Warner Inc. executive Philip
Lochner. The board is rounded out by Schleyer, Yale Law School dean Anthony
Kronman and former Renaissance Cable vice chairman Rod Cornelius.
Cornelius' status is also unclear. He was offered the CEO job in September,
but that offer was pulled after Schleyer and former AT&T Broadband executive
Ron Cooper (now Adelphia's president and COO) became available.
In an interview May 28, Schleyer said Cornelius' past attempt to become CEO
has "not been a source of tension."
In that interview, Schleyer had great praise for Adelphia's board of
directors, especially the four Rigas appointees.
"The four incumbent directors have done an unbelievable job of keeping this
company together," he said. "This company would have gone Chapter 7 without
them. They stepped in. In my view, it's a model for what a company in trouble's
board should do in terms of behavior."
Schleyer added that with the exception of Kailbourne -- who served as
Adelphia's interim chairman and CEO after John Rigas resigned last July -- all
had other full-time jobs but managed to devote a great deal of time to Adelphia
"They would spend literally their weekends working on this company," Schleyer
said. "The fact that they were able to pull this thing together, keep the
company intact until new management could come in here, is an extraordinary
feat. So I have an enormous amount of respect for what they have