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President of Smith International Inc. Resigns Top Posts

Times Staff Writer

Fred J. Barnes resigned Monday as president and chief operating officer of troubled Smith International Inc.

Barnes’ resignation is effective immediately, according to Robert M. Gubrud, vice president and treasurer of the Newport Beach-based maker of drilling bits and other products and services for the oil and gas industries.

Company officials said, however, that Barnes won’t leave the company until later this year.

Barnes, 46, will devote his efforts to managing the appeal of a patent infringement lawsuit in which Smith was ordered to pay Houston-based Hughes Tool Co. $205 million. Smith sought protection of the courts in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy action on March 7, shortly after the award was handed down in Los Angeles federal court.

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Smith Chairman and Chief Executive Jerry Neely has assumed the responsibilities of president and chief operating officer.

Division presidents formerly reporting to Barnes will now report to Neely, the company reported.

The company did not say why Barnes decided to resign at this time or what his future plans are. Barnes could not be reached.

Gubrud said, “It was his own personal decision.”

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At Smith’s annual shareholders meeting earlier this month, some shareholders criticized company executives, saying they had not done enough trimming at the top--either in the number of executives or in their salaries--since the company filed for Chapter 11.

Barnes was paid a base annual salary of $366,508. Gubrud said he did not know how much Barnes will earn now.

Barnes joined the company in 1972, the same year the legal battles began with Hughes.

In 1975, Barnes was elected vice president and treasurer. He became group vice president and chief financial officer in 1978. He has been president of the company since 1983.

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