Walmart Board Adds Ex-AT&T CEO Amid Services Push

Walmart’s board has brought on AT&T’s former chairman and chief executive officer Randall Stephenson as the retailer expands into financial services and other areas.  

The retailer said Friday its board had added Stephenson this month as its 12th member, emphasizing his experience at “high-level finance, operational and marketing positions with AT&T.” Stephenson, who held the CEO role at AT&T for more than a decade until 2020, had previously also held chief financial officer and chief operating officer roles at the telecom company, from which he retired in January. 

“Randall’s experience as a global business leader and, in particular, his leadership skills and insights in finance, technology, retail and brand management will be a tremendous benefit as we shape the next generation of retail,” Walmart board chairman Greg Penner said in a statement. “We look forward to working with him as we drive Walmart’s strategy forward and continue providing effective governance for all our stakeholders.” 

In recent months, Walmart has signaled plans to expand its customer base by pressing forward with its e-commerce strategy and expanding into new areas including financial services, as it teams up with investment firm Ribbit Capital, a move the retailer announced in January.  

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In the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call last month, Walmart’s chief financial officer Brett Biggs told analysts that the company was focusing on growth through “higher-margin businesses in advertising, financial services, marketplace, health care services and the like.” Biggs said those businesses were “scaling and they’re becoming a bigger part of the Walmart U.S.” business overall. 

With the Ribbit partnership, the company said it was creating a fintech start-up to “offer innovative and affordable financial solutions,” to shoppers, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on the analysts’ call last month.  

“Our customers have been clear that they want more from us in terms of financial services,” he said at the time. “And this new approach will help us deliver for them in a differentiated way more quickly. For a fintech start-up, customer acquisitions are high, and our platform lowers those costs. We have a head start.”

The retailer is also eyeing continuing e-commerce growth, after seeing its Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales increase 79 percent in fiscal year 2021. The retailer is expecting $100 billion in global e-commerce in the next two years, Walmart’s CFO Biggs said last month. 

“I’m honored to be appointed to the board of Walmart,” Stephenson said in a statement. “I’ve admired how the management team and Walmart associates have continued to adapt and change to serve customers in new and exciting ways while also serving communities during an unprecedented health crisis. I look forward to joining my colleagues on the board to further the company’s vision of becoming the best omni-retailer in the world.”

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