Valassis CEO Alan Schultz to Retire

Rob Mason to Assume Title

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Alan Schultz
Alan Schultz

Alan Schultz, who orchestrated an acquisition that doubled his company's revenue and then later led it through a legal triumph over its archrival, will retire as president-CEO of Valassis Communications in December, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

Mr. Shultz, 52, will be replaced by longtime Valassis executive Rob Mason, the company said in a statement this morning.

Mr. Shultz will retain his position as chairman of the board and will continue to work for Valassis under a "three-year consulting arrangement with the company to assist with the leadership transition" that begins Jan. 1, the company said.

Mr. Mason currently is Valassis' exex VP-sales and marketing. He has been with the company since 1995 and will join the Valassis board of directors Sept. 1.

Mr. Shultz's crowning achievement was pulling the trigger on a complex $1.2 billion deal to buy the Connecticut-based direct mailer Advo. The move initially was met with skepticism by Wall Street , which drove down Valassis' share price.

But three consecutive quarters of monumental growth after the deal fueled a contract extension and effusive praise for Mr. Schultz.

The deal basically doubled Valassis' annual revenue to more than $2 billion. For 2010, Valassis reported net income of $385.4 million on revenue of $2.3 billion, compared with net income of $66.8 million on revenue of $2.2 billion in 2009.

Acquiring Advo also bolstered Valassis' share price. Its stock reached a nadir of $7.67 in August 2006 after trading at $40 a year before but rebounded after the Advo deal. This morning, it opened at $22 .86.

Mr. Shultz's other big victory was a legal triumph over archrival News America Marketing, the Rupert Murdoch-owned, New York-based company that shares the U.S. coupon market with Valassis.

The companies were engaged in a price war for a year and were embroiled in lawsuits over accusations of unfair business practices.

In January 2010, News America settled the litigation for $500 million on the eve of a federal trial in Detroit. The deal included an agreement that News America would use Valassis' shared mail service for 10 years.

Mr. Shultz, a former Deloitte & Touche senior accountant in Detroit before moving to Valassis in 1984, became CEO when David Brandon left in 1998 to run Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza.

In May 2008, the board extended Mr. Schultz's contract by three years as a reward for the Advo deal. He was fifth on Crain's annual list of top-compensated CEOs at $15.6 million, based on 2010 compensation information filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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