Karen Puckett has resigned as president and CEO of global marketing firm Harte Hanks. Credit: Courtesy / Harte Hanks

Global marketing firm Harte Hanks announced Tuesday that Karen Puckett has resigned from her position as president and CEO following losses of nearly $7 million in the second quarter of this year.

While the company searches for a replacement to lead the company, the board of directors has created a temporary Office of the CEO that will be composed of board members and executives.

They include Jack Griffin, managing director of investment bank Oaklins DeSilva+Phillips; Martin Reidy, former CEO and president of marketing agency Ansira Partners; Jon Biro, chief financial officer and executive vice president; and Andrew Harrison, executive vice president of contact centers and chief human resources officer.

Harte Hanks recorded 2017 revenues of $383.9 million, a 5 percent decline from the year before. For the second quarter of 2018, the last period for which results are available, revenues were at $69.6 million, compared to $94.7 million during the same quarter last year.

Earlier this year, India-based technology services corporation Wipro Limited took a minority stake in Harte Hanks just ahead of a New York Stock Exchange compliance deadline to address its stock price, which had fallen below $1 per share amid ongoing strife among family members leading the company.

In January, Harte Hanks announced it was streamlining the executive team with the resignation of its chief operating officer. The following month, the company cut Puckett’s compensation by 35 percent, eliminated her cash annual incentive plan payment for 2018, and also reduced directors’ salaries.

Shares have risen 1 percent since the start of 2018. Harte Hanks has not issued dividends in more than a year.

“As part of the company’s ongoing effort to ensure world-class leadership, focus on client service and drive profitability, we felt this was the right time to take decisive steps to identify the next generation of leadership for our company,” said Alfred Tobia, chairman of the board, in a statement the company released Tuesday.

“In particular, with burgeoning M&A [mergers and acquisitions] in the marketing services space, we believe there are exciting opportunities to help us accelerate growth while building upon the strengths of our full client offering.”

Founded in 1923 by Houston Harte and Bernard Hanks, the company at one time owned newspapers throughout the U.S., including the San Antonio Express-News. Today, Harte Hanks is a marketing services company based in San Antonio that employs 5,000 employees worldwide at 32 offices in six countries.

Since its founding, the company has been taken public (1972), then private (1984), and taken public again (1993).

Following Tuesday’s announcement, share prices rose more than 5 percent to $8.56 by mid-afternoon.

Puckett was named to the top leadership role at Harte Hanks in September 2015, having served on the board of directors since 2009. She was formerly president of the communications company CenturyLink, based in Louisiana.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.