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Xerox appoints avid biker as new CEO

XEROX named Ursula Burns to succeed Chief Executive Anne Mulcahy, in a move that makes Burns one of the most prominent African-Americans to head a Fortune 500 company.

Mulcahy, 56, an economic advisor to Barack Obama during the United States presidential transition, will retire as CEO on July 1. She is a 33-year veteran of Xerox, where she became CEO in 2001.

An avid biker, Burns, 50, will join a list about 15 women CEOs of a Fortune 500 company and become one of only a handful of African American CEOs. She joined Xerox in 1980 as an engineering intern, was named president in 2007, and had been groomed as the next CEO by Mulcahy.

Mulcahy, who has been credited with revitalizing the world's top supplier of digital printers and document management services, and also serves on Citibank's board of directors, will remain as the company's chairman.

"She has been at my side helping to turn Xerox around," Mulcahy told investors on Thursday at the company's annual shareholder meeting, which was broadcast over the Internet.

No significant strategic changes are expected as a result of the transition, which analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research characterized as "well-telegraphed."

"As the two executives have been working as a leadership team since April 2007, we expect this transition to be seamless," she said. "Burns has already been running corporate strategy, global accounts, IT and human resources."

Under Mulcahy's leadership, the Connecticut-based company has rebounded from fiscal troubles, returned to profitability, and improved market share.

Earlier this month, it introduced a new "solid ink" system that promises to shrink the cost of color prints to near that of black-and-white.

Speaking recently to Reuters about the new system, Burns, who also serves on the board of American Express Co, said she is not unnerved that some customers may swap their Xerox laser printers for the new ColorQube solid ink system.


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