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After CEO’s death, Norwalk-based Xerox sticks to strategy

Xerox, rebuilding its C-suite after the June 28 death of CEO John Visentin, will stick to its post-pandemic recovery plan, interim CEO Steve Bandrowczak told investors on Tuesday.

“We will honor John by continuing to execute on the four strategic initiatives he articulated,” Bandrowczak said in a conference call Tuesday morning. “The same four strategic initiatives that have guided us since 2018 – optimizing operations, driving revenue, monetizing innovation and focusing on cash flow – should drive sustainable, long-term growth.”

Bandrowczak had been chairman and chief operating officer since 2018 under Visentin, who became CEO in May of that year following a proxy battle and court stalemate sparked by activist investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason. .

Icahn and Deason had opposed Xerox’s board of directors’ approval of former CEO Jeff Jacobson’s deal to sell the company for $6 billion to longtime partner Fujifilm Holdings through the Fuji Xerox joint venture selling office systems in Asia.

Even as he pushed back against Fujifilm, Visentin implemented a restructuring plan called “Project Own It” to cut Xerox’s costs through job cuts, outsourcing and streamlining its operations, technology to supply. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, limiting the use of printers that generate part of Xerox’s revenue.

The pandemic has also convinced Visentin to drop its pursuit of another iconic American company – HP, whose board has rejected Xerox’s repeated overtures for a mammoth merger. Visentin and Bandrowczak have worked for HP at times in their careers.

In its heyday, the Xerox brand was synonymous with office life, but the Norwalk-based company has yet to offer a breakthrough product or service for the Internet age to rival its copiers and printers, despite generating an impressive number of patents each year.

While Xerox forecasts a continued return to offices for the rest of this year, it has yet to see revenues show a post-pandemic rebound on a sustainable basis. Xerox revenue fell $46 million in the second quarter to just under $1.75 billion, and the company posted its second consecutive quarter of red ink, at $5 million in the second quarter, after losing $56 million between January and March.

After losing more than half of their value in the early months of the pandemic, Xerox shares recouped some of those losses through March 2021, only to slide ever since. The shares were trading at $16.30 on Tuesday afternoon, up 5% from Monday’s closing price.

On Tuesday, Bandrowczak said continuing issues with supply chains had affected Xerox sales. He, however, described customer demand as “strong”.

Although Xerox has the ability to raise prices for some of its products and services, inflation is prompting the company to seek additional savings internally through Project Own It, for which Bandrowczak took credit for the design. Xerox is on track to achieve more than $2.2 billion in savings under the five-year program since 2018.

Visentin had made it his mission to put Xerox on a steady upward trajectory for profits, while restoring the luster of its Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and research campus in Webster, NY.

Xerox PARC produced a series of breakthrough technologies for the personal computer era that the company did not capitalize on, to include the graphical user interface architecture that enables point-and-click functionality using of a computer mouse.

Bandrowczak highlighted the US Navy’s purchase of a Xerox PARC-developed liquid metal 3D printer called ElemX for the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, the first such device in the fleet that can produce metal components like spare parts.

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