The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday a restructuring plan that will affect each of the seven companies run by the church-owned Deseret Management Corp.
Under the restructuring effort, the members of all boards of directors of DMC subsidiaries are being released, effective April 15.
Mark H. Willes, president and chief executive officer of DMC, which oversees for-profit commercial enterprises affiliated with the LDS Church, including the Deseret News, said Thursday that LDS Church leadership would "really like the Deseret Management Corp. to be an operating company."
"What that means is that instead of being a passive investor who provides advice of counsel, we will now run this like an operating company," Willes said during an interview Thursday.
DMC oversees the commercial companies affiliated with the church, including Beneficial Financial Group, Bonneville International Corp., Deseret Book Co., the Deseret News, Hawaii Reserves Inc., Temple Square Hospitality Corp. and Zions Securities Corp.
Willes said that under the new structure, he would be chairman of the board of each company. The chief executives of each of the seven subsidiaries will serve as board members, as will a DMC vice president, and each will report directly to Willes. In addition, there will be "a very small number of outsiders who have specific expertise relative to that company," he said.
The current economic climate has prompted the corporate revamping as a way to streamline operations and share resources and ideas to grow each of the DMC-owned companies, Willes said.
He said that despite the economic difficulties that are present today, he would like to see each of the subsidiaries prosper in the future.
"We need to find ways to grow," he said. He said growth is dependent upon creating efficiencies wherever possible and deploying funds to the areas where they are most needed.
"The only way you're going to grow is to have the funds to invest for that growth," he said. "I will be looking at budgets every month. That's a rather large change from before.
"All of the companies here are facing the same kind of economic pressure that everybody else is facing. So I expect that there is a fair amount of stress being faced by the managements of these companies," said Willes, who took over the helm of DMC on Monday.
"The challenge is to say that, 'Given how the world is, how do we adapt to that so that we can do what we do best and emerge stronger than when this all started?' " he said.
In the 1990s, Willes was chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Times Mirror Co., the parent of the Los Angeles Times, and he later became the Times' publisher. His career also includes stints at the Federal Reserve banks in Philadelphia and Minneapolis and 15 years in management at General Mills Inc.
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