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Syniverse Holdings replacing CEO but not its headquarters

TAMPA — Syniverse Holdings is squashing speculation about moving into a proposed downtown Tampa office building — at least for now— and replacing it with a more urgent task: finding a new leader.

Jeff Gordon, president and CEO of the Tampa-based mobile communications company since 2011, has resigned and board member Stephen C. Gray has been named interim CEO, the company disclosed in regulatory filings. No reason was given for Gordon's departure.

Gordon's resignation was effective Aug. 20, the same day that Tampa Bay Lightning owner and real estate mogul Jeff Vinik filed a rezoning application to build a downtown Tampa office building that, based on filing language, could become Syniverse's new headquarters.

As part of a broad plan to transform downtown's Channelside area, Vinik has proposed building a 202,000-square-foot office building north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. As the Times reported earlier this week, a rezoning application survey included "Syniverse office new zoning" in its electronic file name, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn confirmed the company's discussion about a downtown move.

But Syniverse chief financial and administrative officer David Hitchcock indicated speculation about an imminent deal is unwarranted.

"Syniverse has a lease for our global headquarters in New Tampa through October 2016 and a lease for our facility on the 30th floor of the SunTrust building through March 2024," Hitchcock said in a statement Tuesday. "We do not have any plans to enter into any arrangements for a new headquarters building in downtown, and we remain committed to the Tampa Bay area."

A spokesman for Vinik declined to comment.

Syniverse has grown into a powerhouse by acting essentially as a middleman for cellphone companies, tracking customers who roam onto other carriers' networks.

Today, the company has clients in nearly 200 countries. It has more than 2,700 employees worldwide and offices in Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Dubai and Luxembourg. Once publicly traded, Syniverse was acquired by the Carlyle Group private equity firm for $2.6 billion in cash in 2010 in one of the biggest corporate buyouts in Tampa Bay history.

Syniverse spokesman Bobby Eagle said Gordon's departure had nothing to do with any corporate relocation discussions. "They're definitely not related to each other," he said.

Gordon also resigned all other officer and director positions with the company and affiliates, including parent company Syniverse Corp.

Gordon, 54, declined an interview request but did issue a statement.

"My time at Syniverse has been very exciting as we have transformed the business, completed key acquisitions and expanded our customer base, putting Syniverse in the center of the mobile ecosystem while delivering valued, differentiated services to our customers," he said. "It has been an honor to work with this outstanding team, which consistently provides superior service to our broad customer base."

Gray, a 56-year-old Carlyle executive and Syniverse board member since 2011, will receive a base salary of $60,000 per month during his interim appointment, and he will be eligible for a bonus of up to 100 percent of his base salary. Gray will also receive $350,000 in stock options, temporary housing in Tampa, and reimbursement for weekly travel expenses to and from his current home in Iowa.

Syniverse Holdings replacing CEO but not its headquarters 08/26/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:48pm]
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