Michael H. Jordan, a skilled troubleshooter who held leadership roles at CBS, PepsiCo and Westinghouse, died Tuesday in New York from complications related to cancer, CBS Corp. announced. He was 73.
Jordan was instrumental in crafting the media conglomerate that became the CBS of today as its chairman and chief executive. As the top executive at Westinghouse Electric Corp., he engineered the acquisition of CBS in 1995. He later shed Westinghouse's industrial businesses and kept the media business. Viacom Inc. bought CBS in 1999, but they parted ways seven years later.
CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said Jordan "took over Westinghouse when most thought its demise was inevitable and brought it back to life, transforming the old industrial corporation into one completely focused in the media world."
At CBS, Jordan turned the company around after years of losses by cobbling together a media enterprise that upon his departure in 1998 had the No. 2-rated TV network, more than 155 radio stations, 14 TV stations and cable networks.
Born in Kansas City, Mo., on June 15, 1936, Jordan received chemical engineering degrees at Yale and Princeton universities before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1960 to 1964.
Early in his career, Jordan was a consultant and principal at McKinsey & Co. He would later hold various executive positions at PepsiCo before retiring in 1992 as chairman and CEO of its international foods and beverages division.
He did not stay retired for long. Shortly after leaving PepsiCo, he joined private investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc.
He joined Westinghouse Electric in 1993 and two years later bought what was then called CBS Inc. for $5.4 billion. Jordan retired as CBS chairman and chief executive in 1998, became a private investor and wrote a mystery novel.
In 2003, Jordan was coaxed out of retirement to turn around Electronic Data Systems, a software and networking company based in Plano, Texas, as chairman and chief executive. He stepped down in 2007 but remained chairman emeritus until Hewlett-Packard bought EDS a year later.
Jordan sometimes had to make clear that he was not the basketball-playing Michael Jordan.
"We do get calls at 3 in the morning from people who want to speak to the real Michael Jordan," his first wife, Kim, told the Dallas Morning News in 1995.
Jordan is survived by his second wife, Hilary Cecil-Jordan; four children, including two from his first marriage; and six grandchildren.