Antonio B. Mon, president and CEO of the financially troubled TOUSA for nearly six years, will relinquish both titles within the next 30 days. He will be be replaced by John R. Boken, the company's chief restructuring officer since January, when the company filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The Boken appointment is subject to the court's approval. Mon will remain with the company, keeping his title as executive vice-chairman of the board, for no longer than the end of the year, the company reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission late Tuesday.
Under Mon's agreement as executive vice-chairman, he will remain in the position until, Dec. 31 of this year, the effective date of the company's plan of reorganization, or within 30 days of either party's written notice that the agreement is terminated, whichever comes first.
The company offered no reasons for Mon's termination in its documents and company spokesperson Jennifer Mercer told Big Builder that TOUSA is "not providing any further comment outside of the filings and releases."
In the wake of the company's bankruptcy court filing, Mon's departure was not unexpected in the industry. While all home builders have been hard-hit by the housing slowdown, TOUSA's situation deteriorated when a joint venture agreement it entered into with Transeastern Properties soured, requiring the company to take on a large amount of new debt to buy out the deal's creditors.
Until the end, Mon refused to accept the accountability for his role in the company's extreme financial struggles. Instead, he blamed the market.
"At the end of the day this is a market-driven condition." Mon said in a March interview with Big Builder. "We're dealing with a set of conditions that haven't happened in a long, long time." He pointed to the record levels of re-sale inventory, historically low affordability, dwindling consumer confidence, a mortgage market in turmoil, and a financial system under pressure, to underscore that there are outside forces that conspired against the business.
"I don't think there's anything, given our structure, we could've done to avoid this," he said.
In March, Mon acknowledged the possibility that he wouldn't remain in the company's CEO seat. "I'm not losing sleep over it. I'm a big boy," he said about the possibility of his departure, although he indicated his plan to stay through the company's restructuring. "My focus is short term--[it's] how do we get through, to the other end of the rainbow?"
Just last week, TOUSA received a five-month extension to file its plan to exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The extension prohibits creditors and other parties from filing competing reorganization proposals through Oct. 25
Given Boken's experience in restructuring and crisis management for financially distressed companies, it's likely he will be more of a place keeper than a permanent replacement for Mon. As a managing director at Kroll Zolfo Cooper, during the past 15 years, he has led more than 50 projects in a variety of industries including energy, health care, manufacturing, retail and agriculture. His experience also includes serving in senior executive roles for some of his client companies. Most recently, Boken served as NRG Energy's interim president and chief operating officer during the company's Chapter 11 filing in 2003.
In a separate March interview with Big Builder, Boken said his job was to look beyond how TOUSA got into its current financial straits and blame-placing to determine how to get it back on track.
"Now, it's about how we get out of it, how long will it take, and how much money will it take? How can we best work together to maximize the value? That's where my responsibility comes in because, now I am the new party--independent of anything that happened historically," Boken said.
"[I have] the responsibility of driving these discussions and focusing our energies to avoid any decision making that isn't in their best interest. My experience is to do that in a manner that is as collaborative as possible."