Xerox Corp. on Thursday named as its new chief executive Anne M. Mulcahy, who has led the company's effort to return to profitability.
Mulcahy, 48, succeeds Paul A. Allaire, who will continue as chairman until his retirement at the end of the year.
Allaire had reassumed the CEO position on an interim basis after Richard Thoman was ousted in May 2000, just 13 months after taking the helm. Mulcahy was named president and chief operating officer at that time.
"This leadership transition is consistent with the board's plans developed last year when I returned as CEO and Anne was named president," Allaire said.
"The plan called for a gradual transition of leadership with Anne becoming CEO when the board was confident of the effective execution of Xerox's turnaround. Clearly, this requirement has been met."
Xerox has been scrambling for more than a year to cope with stiff competition, a botched sales force reorganization, sluggish sales and a sharp drop in its stock price. The company is in the midst of a turnaround effort that includes the sale of billions of dollars in assets and the elimination of 8,600 jobs since September.
Mulcahy's appointment came a day after Xerox posted its fourth straight loss on a steeper-than-expected 13% decline in revenue.
The company said it had made some progress, including a decline in debt, a reduction in inventory, reduced spending and more cash on hand.
Mulcahy began her 25-year Xerox career as a field sales representative. She later took on management and executive positions, including chief staff officer and president of Xerox's general markets operations.
Mulcahy, who will retain the title of president, joins a short list of Fortune 500 CEOs who are women: Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard Co., Andrea Jung at Avon Products, Marion Sandler at Golden West Financial Corp. and Cinda Hallman at Spherion Corp.
Xerox credited Mulcahy with reducing costs and building on Xerox's core growth opportunities, with a focus on color printers, services and solutions.
"I am ready and privileged to lead a team of dedicated employees who are as sharply focused and committed as I am in the successful turnaround of our company," Mulcahy said.
Shares of Stamford-based Xerox rose 41 cents to $8 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.