Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston has resigned from the company, effective immediately. Huston resigned following an investigation overseen by independent members of the board of directors into a personal relationship that he had with an employee of the company.
The investigation determined that Huston had acted contrary to the company's code of conduct and had "engaged in activities inconsistent with the board's expectations for executive conduct." Huston acknowledged the relationship and, according to a statement, "expressed regret" for violating the code of conduct. The person with whom Huston was involved was not under his direct supervision.
A company spokesperson said that Huston's resignation “was not related in any way to the company’s operational performance or financial condition." During Huston's tenure The Priceline Group, the company's market value increased by 173 percent and operating profits increased from $1.40 billion in 2011 to $3.26 billion in 2015. Employees increased from about 5,000 to more than 15,000 at the end of 2015.
The company has appointed former CEO and current Chairman Jeffery Boyd as interim CEO and president of The Priceline Group while the Board looks for a successor. Boyd is a 16-year veteran of The Priceline Group, previously serving as president and CEO from 2002 to 2013, during which time he led the company through a period of significant global expansion and growth in stockholder value.
At the same time, current Booking.com president and COO Gillian Tans has been named CEO of Booking.com, a Priceline Group subsidiary, replacing Huston who also served as CEO of this business unit. Tans served as Booking.com's president since January 2015 and COO since September 2011, responsible for leading the development and execution of Booking.com's business strategy and directly overseeing all aspects of the brand's operations.
An independent committee of the board of directors overseen by Lead Independent Director James Guyette will work to identify CEO successor candidates.
The company will announce its Q2 earnings on May 4, as previously scheduled.
Source: USA Today
Photo courtesy Bram Belloni for Priceline