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Catalina COO out after just 4 months

Citing personal reasons, the newly appointed president ends 17 years with the company.

By BENITA D. NEWTON
Published August 14, 2003

The president and chief operating officer of Catalina Marketing Inc. is resigning from the St. Petersburg coupon company after only four months in the position.

Michael G. Bechtol, 47, will step down Sept. 12, Catalina said Wednesday. In a news release, the company cited personal reasons for the departure, and a spokeswoman declined to elaborate. Bechtol and other company officials were not available for comment.

Daniel Granger, Catalina's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement the split was "amicable."

Bechtol, who has been with the company 17 years, served as president of Catalina's international division before becoming chief operating officer. He recently helped Catalina expand into five new countries, according to spokeswoman Rachel Keener.

The company did not provide any timetable for finding Bechtol's replacement. For now, the company said, Granger will share Bechtol's duties with group presidents Sue Klug and Patty Melanson.

"While he has been a valuable part of our company, we don't expect his departure to in any way effect our day-to-day operations," Keener said.

Catalina provides marketing services to consumer goods companies and retailers and is known for its electronic coupon distribution.

Keener said Bechtol's resignation is not related to shareholders' lawsuits alleging violations of federal securities laws that were recently filed against the company. The suits say Catalina falsely stated the company's expectations about revenues and earnings and the demand that existed for the company's services, and engaged in improper revenue recognition. Catalina has called the claims "meritless."

Independent auditors are reviewing revenue recognition practices at Catalina's health resource unit as well as in some of its business areas. The company has delayed filing its annual report until the issues are more resolved. Catalina reported nearly $17-million in net income for the three-month period that ended in December 2002, the latest quarterly report it filed.

The company's stock price hit a 52-week low Wednesday, closing at $14.56, down nearly 6 percent.

- Benita D. Newton can be reached at bnewton@sptimes.com or 727 893-8318.

[Last modified August 14, 2003, 01:32:32]

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