Xerox CEO To Retire In July

"It has been a privilege leading Xerox," Mulcahy said in a statement. "The decision to move on is made easy only by the fact that Ursula Burns is so well positioned to take Xerox to the next level."

A 33-year veteran of Xerox, Mulcahy took the reins as CEO eight years ago as the company was mired in massive debt and declining market share. Xerox also had landed in the radar of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which investigated claims of irregular accounting practices.

Mulcahy was inducted into the CRN Hall of Fame in 2007. "It was a difficult time," Mulcahy said of her promotion to CEO in an interview with CRN at the time. "It was under an unusual set of circumstances. Where most people would be getting congratulations, I was getting more condolences than congratulations."

Commenting on her retirement, N.J. Nicholas Jr., lead independent director of Xerox's board of directors, praised Mulcahy's dogged efforts to transform the company.

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"As CEO, Anne successfully led a multibillion-dollar turnaround of Xerox and transformed the business into an innovative digital technology and services enterprise," Nicholas said in a statement.

Mulcahy joined the Norwalk, Conn.-based company in 1976 as a sales rep in Boston. Working her way up, the 56-year-old executive became CEO of Xerox on Aug. 1, 2001, and chairman on Jan. 1, 2002. Prior to that, she was president and COO from May 2000 through July 2001.

"I joined Xerox because it offered a level playing field—a sales environment where meritocracy ruled," she said in a statement. "And, I stayed because the values of the brand, the culture and the people are so closely aligned with how I think every business should operate."

Burns, 50, joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering intern and later assumed roles in product development and planning. From 1992 through 2000, she oversaw several business teams including the office color and fax business and office network printing business. In 2000, she was named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, and ran the company's manufacturing and supply chain operations. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox.

Xerox and its competitors have felt the heat of the economic crisis. In April, Xerox reported first-quarter revenue of $3.6 billion, down 18 percent from $4.3 billion in the same period last year. Nevertheless, the company managed to turn a profit in the quarter, reporting net income of $42 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of $244 million, or 27 cents a share, one year ago.

The company blamed losses on delayed decisions in enterprise spending on office equipment and distributors holding lower inventory levels. Xerox also reported that equipment sales fell 30 percent in the quarter, driven by lower activity, especially through the channel.

Following its earnings rerort, Mulcahy outlined the company's strategy to boost the business.

"During the year, we will continue to bring new technology to market that provides more affordable choices for our customers and launch more document services that help our customers cut their document costs by up to 30 percent," Mulcahy said in a statement.

Edward F. Moltzen contributed to this story.