Computer maker Unisys Corp. has named James A. Unruh president and chief operating officer, putting him in line to succeed Chairman and Chief Executive W. Michael Blumenthal.
Unruh, 48, beat Curtis A. Hessler, 45, for the No. 2 job at the nation's third-largest computer company. Hessler, who worked with Blumenthal when he was Treasury secretary in the Carter Administration, and Unruh, a former Burroughs executive, were viewed as the top candidates to take over when Blumenthal retires.
Blumenthal, 63, who engineered Burrough's takeover of Sperry to form Unisys, has indicated that he may step down in two years.
As president, Unruh will handle all computer business except defense sales. Before Unruh's appointment, the company had no president and chief operating officer.
"His top priority will be to strengthen the company's financial position by improving profitability and cash flow and to continue the company's thrust into the faster-growing markets of distributed network computing systems and software and services," Blumenthal said in a statement.
Hessler, an executive vice president, was named vice chairman. Hessler's continues as chief financial officer and head of the Defense Systems Group.
The appointments were made one week after Unisys said price wars and sluggish sales would force the layoffs of 6,000 of its 99,000 worldwide employees. Last month, the company said its second-quarter profit fell 67% to $53.6 million.