AT&T names John Stankey as next CEO, Randall Stephenson to retire

Stankey will take over as CEO on July 1.

Randall Stephenson is retiring as AT&T's chief executive, the company announced Friday. Chief Operating Officer John Stankey will take over as CEO on July 1. 

AT&T's Board began the CEO succession planning process in 2017 and Stankey has been the primary candidate groomed for the role. He's been with AT&T since 1985, holding various leadership positions, most recently as the CEO of AT&T's WarnerMedia.

"Leadership succession is one of the Board's most important responsibilities," AT&T director Beth Mooney said. "After an extensive evaluation, it was clear that John Stankey was the right person to lead AT&T into the future."

This week the telecom and media company reported first quarter earnings and revenue that fell short of expectations, and withdrew its outlook due to COVID-19. Despite economic challenges, the company still said it had enough cash flow to invest in growth areas such as 5G.

The coronavirus pandemic also prompted AT&T to cancel a planned $4 billion stock buyback. The company said last month it would instead use the funds to pay employees and make network investments. 

Later this year, AT&T's Board will elect an independent director to chair the company's board when Stephenson retires as executive chairman in January 2021.