Walmart, the largest overall employer in the U.S. with 2.2 million workers, on Friday announced that board chairman, Rob Walton, would be stepping down from his role after 23 years and named Greg Penner, Walton’s son-in-law, as his successor, effective June 5.
Walton will now assume the role of board director.
Penner previously served as the board’s vice chairman, and has held a number of positions in Walmart’s corporate structure, including senior vice president and CFO of the Japan division and senior vice president of finance and strategy for Walmart.com. He joined the board in 2008.
“This transition demonstrates Walmart’s commitment to long-term succession planning and keeping high caliber, capable leaders at the head of our company,” said Walton, the eldest son of founder Sam Walton. “Greg’s service to Walmart spans more than 15 years and during that time he has had a significant impact, both as an associate and as a board member the past seven years.”
The Walton family owns a majority stake in Walmart, holding at least 50 percent of the outstanding shares. Investors have been pressing for an independent chairman without ties to the founding family ever since bribery-related allegations overseas exposed board oversight failure. Instead, Walmart said it’s realigning the composition of its board committees so that most of the independent directors will serve on at least two board committees.
“It would be impossible to overstate Rob Walton’s impact on Walmart and how personally committed he has been over the years,” Penner said. “I’m deeply honored to follow in his footsteps and recognize the deep responsibility I have to our associates, all shareholders and the board… I am excited about continuing to work with our outstanding senior management team and talented Walmart associates at all levels of the company.”