United Continental Holdings today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed three new highly qualified independent directors to the Board: James A.C. Kennedy, Robert A. Milton and James M. Whitehurst, effective immediately.Henry L. Meyer III, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, said, “We are always looking at ways to enhance corporate governance at United. For some time, the Board has been evaluating potential director candidates with the assistance of a leading search firm and with the benefit of shareholder input. We are very pleased to announce the appointment of three new independent directors to the Board today and expect to announce a fourth in the near term.”
Meyer added, “We believe these accomplished executives, who have deep airline or other relevant experience, will provide invaluable perspective as we build on our strong momentum by continuously working to improve operations. We remain focused on investing in our products and services to earn the trust of our customers and employees and to create long-term value for our shareholders.”
Oscar Munoz, who plans to resume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer on March 14, 2016, noted, “I am excited that three world-class, independent directors are joining the Board and believe they will help achieve our goal of generating superior value for shareholders. I look forward to working together with the Board and the management team to accelerate the positive momentum of our operational turnaround while continuing to innovate and elevate our employee and customer experience.”
United’s three new directors will be nominated by the Board for re-election at the 2016 Annual Meeting. The Board expects to appoint a fourth new independent director in the near term, who would also be nominated for re-election at the 2016 Annual Meeting. In connection with the appointment of the new directors, certain current directors will step down from the Board at or in advance of the 2016 Annual Meeting.
James Kennedy, 62, is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., a global investment management organization which provides mutual funds, sub-advisory services, and separate account management. During his tenure, T. Rowe more than doubled its assets under management, which increased from $335 billion at the end of 2006 to $763 billion as of December 31, 2015. Prior to his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2006, Mr. Kennedy served in roles of increasing responsibility at T. Rowe since 1978, including VP & Director of the Equity Research Division beginning in 1997. He has been a director of T. Rowe since 1987. Prior to joining T. Rowe, Mr. Kennedy participated in the Financial Management training Program at General Electric. He graduated from Princeton University with a BA degree and Stanford University with an MBA. He is a recipient of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Excellence in Leadership Award.
Robert Milton, 55, was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., and was Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada. Having joined Air Canada in 1992 in a consulting capacity, Mr. Milton moved from the role of Senior Director of Scheduling to Vice President, Scheduling and Product Management, Senior Vice President, Marketing and In-Flight Service and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Milton became President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada in 1999. He is currently the lead director of Air Lease Corporation, a director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and a trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation Inc. Mr. Milton was a past director of US Airways, Inc., and was also a past Chairman of the Board of Governors of IATA (The International Air Transport Association). Mr. Milton graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a BS in Industrial Management.
James Whitehurst, 48, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Red Hat, Inc., a leading provider of open source enterprise IT products and services. Since joining Red Hat in January 2008, he has more than tripled the company’s revenue from $523 million to $1.8 billion, while more than tripling the company’s stock price. Under his leadership, Red Hat was named to Forbes’ list of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2015, 2014, and 2012; added to Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index in 2009; and named one of the best places to work by Glassdoor in 2014. Prior to Red Hat, Mr. Whitehurst spent six years at Delta Air Lines, Inc., where he managed airline operations and drove significant international expansion as Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Whitehurst helped put the company back on firm footing as it emerged from bankruptcy in 2007. Before Delta, he held several corporate development leadership roles at The Boston Consulting Group, with clients across a wide range of industries. Mr. Whitehurst currently serves on the Board of DigitalGlobe, Inc. In June 2015, Whitehurst published a book with Harvard Business Review Press entitled “The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance” showing how open principles of management, based on transparency, participation, and community, can help organizations navigate and succeed in a fast-paced connected era. He is a graduate of Rice University with a BA in Computer Science and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.
United has been focused on improving its operations and customer and employee experience. Over the past several months, United has experienced significant improvements in on-time arrivals and completion factor. United’s 2015 earnings were one of the best in the Company’s history, and United made progress shrinking the margin gap with its closest competitors, strengthening its balance sheet, and returning substantial cash to shareholders.