Rouse chief operating officer retires at 53

Smalley is latest executive to quit Columbia developer

March 01, 2003|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

In the latest shake-up of its top ranks, the Rouse Co. announced yesterday that its vice chairman and chief operating officer had retired, effective immediately.

Jerome D. Smalley, 53, stepped down from the position he assumed in September after 23 years with the company.

Officials at Rouse said Smalley will not be replaced and that his departure allows the Columbia company to reduce corporate overhead.

"We have been looking for ways to be more cost-efficient and when Jerry wanted to retire, we decided the structure that we put in place would work OK," said David L. Tripp, Rouse vice president of investor relations and corporate communications.

Smalley was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. In a statement, he said he intended to be involved in several nonprofit endeavors in the future.

A Baltimore analyst that follows the company said that Rouse needs to downsize because it has fewer properties and less square footage than it once did.

"We believe that Rouse has far more staff then they need to manage what is now a significantly down-sized company than it was in the '90s," said David Fick, a managing director and analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc.

Rouse is one of the nation's major mall owners and managers, including Baltimore's Harborplace, Towson Town Center, the Mall in Columbia, Owings Mills and White Marsh malls. It also is the developer of Columbia and Summerlin, near Las Vegas.

Fick also said that companies tend to call "forced departures retirements to save face on both sides."

Tripp said that Smalley chose to leave, but acknowledged that the company is trying to bring in younger blood.

Smalley is the third top-ranking manager to leave the company in the last six months.

In August Rouse announced that Thomas J. DeRosa, a 44-year-old Deutsche Bank AG executive, would replace Jeffrey H. Donahue as chief financial officer - an unusual move for a company whose top executives traditionally had spent years at the company. DeRosa also was named vice chairman. Chief Operating Officer Douglas A. McGregor retired in September.

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