Embattled Allegheny International Inc. Chairman Robert J. Buckley, who once claimed that "I never make a mistake," resigned under fire because of corporate losses, questionable spending and debt approaching $1 billion.
The board of directors, recently targeted in a shareholders' class-action lawsuit, on Friday chose Oliver S. Travers Jr., president of the company's key consumer products division, to assume Buckley's titles of chairman, chief executive, president and chief operating officer.
Buckley "felt he no longer could provide effective leadership to the company in light of recent publicity," the board said in a letter to shareholders.
Buckley, 62, took control in 1975 when the company was still Allegheny Ludlum Industries Inc. and relied mainly on its specialty steel business.
Travers, 60, considered to be a savvy and amiable businessman, came to what became Allegheny International through its 1981 acquisition of Schenuit Industries Inc., a lawn-mower and garden-tool company. He became a director in 1985 and became president of the company's consumer products group in March.
Business Week magazine recently reported a web of questionable financial practices and conflicts of interests at Allegheny International, which lost $109 million on revenue of $2.1 billion in 1985.
Shareholders who filed a class-action lawsuit against the board further alleged that Buckley led a "personality cult" that allowed top managers to put relatives on the payroll in questionable positions, including Buckley's son as manager of a New York hotel and resident in the hotel's $1-million penthouse.
William Miller, analyst for Legg Mason Masten Inc. of Baltimore, said "very poor" investment decisions prevented Allegheny International from turning its substantial assets into value for shareholders.