Ex-IBM chief Akers to join Lorenzo's airline venture

June 16, 1993|By New York Times News Service

John F. Akers, the former chairman of IBM, has signed on as a director and investor in Frank A. Lorenzo's fledgling venture to operate a low-cost airline along the East Coast.

An odd couple? Not at all, the two executives say. Their partnership makes perfect sense in light of their shared interests and backgrounds, they said in interviews yesterday.

Both have tried to restructure large, established companies and have had their fill of criticism. Both are in their 50s, have no wish to retire and are eager to get back into the game, particularly in a start-up venture.

"It's a lot easier to start with a clean sheet of paper than to change an organization that has been in existence for a long time," Mr. Akers said by telephone from his Connecticut home.

"The reason I'm interested, frankly, is that I'm looking to spend my time and invest modestly in opportunities that are different from whatI've done in the past, and this is about as different as I can imagine," he said.

But, after a moment's reflection, he said that he was "going back to my initial career of sorts." Mr. Akers, who was a carrier pilot for four years, added, "I've done everything you can do with an airplane except crash one and run one."

Now 58, Mr. Akers will own roughly 5 percent of the stock in the carrier. Until recently, the venture was known as Friendship Airlines, but the company said it had been forced to abandon that name and was considering a new one. In the meantime, it is going by its corporate name, ATX Inc.

Mr. Akers said his role in the airline would be dictated by MrLorenzo, who turned 53 last month.

"I told him I'd devote whatever time he thought could be useful,Mr. Akers said.

If the airline starts flying, that might include setting up the company's computer operation, he said.

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