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Remembering Jerome York

Jerome York, best known for his association with the billionaire and activist investor Kirk Kerkorian, passed away late last week just days after suffering a severe brain aneurysm.

York, 71, was best known for playing a key role in helping save Chrysler and later IBM. He was brought in to both companies as CFO when their survival was very much in question. York instituted major cost-cutting initiatives and is credited with contributing to their respective turnarounds.

At the time of his death, York was still sitting on Apple's board, where he was a director since 1997. York joined Apple's board just prior to the return of CEO Steve Jobs. "He has been a pillar of financial and business expertise and insight on our board for over a dozen years," Jobs said in a statement. "I will miss him a lot."

More recently, York was in the spotlight for his efforts to lead Kerkorian's initiatives to salvage General Motors before its meltdown last year that resulted in its filing for bankruptcy. As his obituary in The New York Times noted, he foresaw much of GM's problems years before they played out, though his warnings were largely ignored.

His obituary pointed to "one rare miss" when he and some investors bought direct systems marketer Micro Warehouse for $275 million, looking to capitalize on the boom for selling IT goods online. I recall sitting down with York at Micro Warehouse's Norwalk, Conn. headquarters. At the time, York was still treading water, trying to transform the company from an inbound seller to an outbound marketer of systems. But Micro Warehouse ultimately filed for bankruptcy and was snapped up by rival CDW.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/22/2010 at 1:14 PM


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