MILWAUKEE - Tyson Foods Inc. said Monday that its president and chief executive, Dick Bond, was stepping down immediately in a move he said was in the best interest for himself and the company.
Bond will be replaced on an interim basis by former chairman and CEO Leland Tollett, the company said in a statement.
Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson, the world's largest meat processing company, said Bond announced his decision on Monday.
Bond said in a statement the decision "is in both my best interest personally, and the best interest of the company."
Tyson and other meat producers have been squeezed by volatile commodity prices, weak demand and an oversupply of meat on the market. Last month, Tyson signed an agreement with its creditors that puts up just about the entire company as collateral for its loans.
Bond, 61, had been CEO since May 2006.
Last week the company filed its 2008 proxy with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Bond received compensation valued by the company at about $4.9 million in fiscal 2008, according to an analysis of the proxy. In 2007 his compensation was valued at $12.9 million. His 2008 compensation tumbled because the value of stock and stock options he was awarded plunged.
The company's stock finished the year down 42 percent and saw its profits dragged down by weakness in the chicken business.
For the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 27, Tyson earned $86 million, or 24 cents per share, compared to $268 million, or 75 cents per share, the previous year. Sales rose to $26.86 billion from $25.73 billion.
Tyson's chicken unit lost $118 million for the year. Its beef unit earned $106 million, while the pork unit made $45 million in the year.
Tyson is the nation's second biggest chicken producer, after Pilgrim's Pride Corp. That company, saddled by debt and hurt by volatile commodity costs, filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 1. Several weeks later the Pittsburg, Texas-based meat producer announced Clint Rivers was resigning his post as president and chief executive.
Tyson shares fell 40 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $8.95 in Monday trading.
Also Monday, Tyson named Donnie Smith as senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods.