Lopez named CEO, Stone to serve as chairman

AMC Entertainment announced Tuesday that chair-CEO Peter C. Brown is retiring from the top post after a decade.

Former Starbucks Coffee top exec Gerardo I. Lopez has been named CEO, while AMC board director Aaron Stone will serve as chairman.

Brown’s departure didn’t come as a complete surprise to the distribution community. In 2007, under Brown’s watch, AMC had to withdraw from an IPO offering worth more than $780 million. At the same time, Brown led the company during many flush years.

AMC, the country’s third largest theater chain, has been owned since 2004 by J.P. Morgan Partners LLC, the private equity arm of JP Morgan Chase and Apollo Management.

Circuit disclosed Brown’s retirement, effective Monday, in papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the filings, Brown will receive a cash severance payment of $7 million. He also has elected to sell back his AMC shares.

Lopez will receive a base salary of $700,000, as well as a one-time incentive bonus that vests at a rate of $400,000 over five years.

Brown was appointed chair-CEO in 1999, becoming only the third chairman in AMC’s history. He joined the circuit in 1990, serving in a variety of capacities on his way up the ladder.

“Having helped the company grow from $400 million in revenues when I joined it to the $2.3 billion world-class company it has become, the time is right to turn to the next phase of my life and to the opportunities that exist,” Brown said, adding that Lopez’s marketing and consumer background make him an ideal choice.

Lopez, who assumes his new duties Monday, most recently served as exec VP of Starbucks and prexy of its Global Consumer Products, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Foodservice divisions.

Prior to Starbucks, Lopez worked at companies including Handleman Entertainment, Frito-Lay Inc., Pepsi-Cola Co. and Procter & Gamble.

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