Altria Group Names New CEO

Howard Willard is retiring as Altria Group’s CEO and chairman of the board of directors.

Billy Gifford, who’s been with the company for 25 years, most recently as vice chairman and chief financial officer, has been named CEO to replace him.

Willard, who’s been recovering from COVID-19, was with the company for nearly three decades.

The board is separating the roles of chairman and CEO, electing Thomas Farrell, formerly the board’s independent presiding director, as independent chairman of the board.

In addition to serving as CFO, Gifford has also held roles as Altria’s senior vice president, strategy and business development and president and CEO of Philip Morris USA. He also currently serves as a director at Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV as one of Altria’s designees.

Salvatore Mancuso has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer. Mancuso, most recently senior vice president, finance and procurement, has been with the company for 29 years.

“The board thanks Howard for his nearly 30 years of distinguished service to Altria and for helping to set the course for Altria’s 10-year vision to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future,” said Farrell. “Our election of Billy as the next CEO reflects the board’s belief that his collaborative leadership style, strategic mindset and deep financial and industry expertise are right to lead Altria towards that future.”

“We believe we’re well positioned to make significant progress against our vision,” said Gifford. “I’m excited to work with our strong leadership team, fantastic employees and key stakeholders to lead Altria forward in its pursuit of the 10-year vision.”

Altria’s wholly owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris Capital Corporation, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, John Middleton Co., Sherman Group Holdings and its subsidiaries, and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Altria owns an 80% interest in Helix Innovations and holds equity investments in Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, Juul Labs and Cronos Group.

The company is No. 21 on the CGT Top 100 Consumer Goods Companies of 2019 ranking.