Diebold CEO Resigns

Associated Press | December 13, 2005

NORTH CANTON, Ohio (AP) - The chairman and chief executive of automated-teller and voting machine maker Diebold Inc. quit on Monday. 

The company, which has come under fire for its electronic voting business, said in a statement that the resignation of 60-year-old Walden W. O'Dell is effective immediately. 

"The board of directors and Wally mutually agreed that his decision to resign at this time for personal reasons was in the best interest of all parties," said John Lauer, Diebold's nonexecutive chairman of the board. 

The announcement was made after the stock market closed. Diebold stock fell nearly 2 percent, or 73 cents, to $37 in after-hours trading. The stock has traded between $33.10 and $57.81 in the past year. 

Diebold spokesman Mike Jacobsen would not elaborate on the resignation. 

When reached by telephone by The Associated Press, O'Dell said he would not comment about his quitting. 

"I wish Diebold well," he said before hanging up. 

Chief Operating Officer Thomas Swidarski was named O'Dell's replacement and will at least temporarily perform both jobs, the statement said. 

Diebold, whose main business is making ATMs and security systems, ventured into e-voting after the Florida punch-card debacle of 2000. 

But the company faced challenges in the e-voting business - from concerns from California's top election official and others about the machines' security and reliability to controversy about O'Dell's support of President Bush. 

The problems slowed initial sales and forced the company last year to lower financial expectations for Diebold Election Systems, the subsidiary that makes the touchscreens. 

Diebold addressed some security concerns by offering receipts for touch-screen voting but took another hit this year when Hurricane Katrina caused the postponement of $10 million in voting machine deliveries in Gulf areas. 

The company said in September that rising fuel costs and a slow performance in its North American bank security business forced it to slash third-quarter earnings expectations to between 32 and 37 cents a share, including the one-time charges. At the time, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial projected third quarter earnings of 66 cents a share for the quarter. 

In October, Diebold said ineffective supply chain management, higher-than-expected manufacturing and production costs and higher energy costs also contributed to the third-quarter performance. 

"I look forward to continuing to work closely with John and the rest of the board as we continue to address the challenges facing the company," Swidarski said Monday.