With Apollo Private Equity Deal Closed, West Corp Appoints Payment Industry Vets As CEO, President

West Corp has overhauled its executive team in the wake of Apollo Global Management's massive acquisition of the telecom services provider, which closed Oct. 10.

John Shlonsky succeeds 26-year West Corp veteran Tom Barker as CEO and Robert Wechsler replaces longtime executive Nancee Berger in the role of president as part of the sweeping leadership changes. Barker will remain on in a consultative role to assist with the executive transition, and Berger will continue to serve as COO into 2018. Both executives have said they will retire.

Apollo's purchase of the Omaha, Neb.-based company, No. 24 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, is valued at roughly $5.2 billion, including West Corp's debt of more than $3 billion. As part of the deal, Barker and Berger are eligible to earn a combined stock option worth as much as $44.2 million, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing – a total that would have been reduced if either executive remained at the company for two more years.

[Related: Apollo Global Management To Buy West Corp For Enterprise Value of $5.1B]

Shlonsky spent nearly a decade as CEO of financial services firm TransFirst, which specializes in providing merchant bank card, credit card and transaction processing services, before joining TSYS as part of its acquisition of TransFirst.

"John brings more than two decades of experience in payments, technology and financial services and has a proven track record of driving growth, productivity improvements and operational excellence for leading global organizations," Matt Nord, chairman of West Corp's board of directors, said in a statement.

Wechsler is another experienced payment industry executive who served as chairman and CEO of Dallas-based Century Payments from 2006 to 2013. He grew the company to $15 billion in four years and later sold it to Bain Capital and Worldpay in 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile. Wechsler went on to found youth sports management organization Blue Star Sports, which is partly backed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Bain Capital.

West Corp also said it named former TransFirst executive Nancy Disman as chief administrative officer and Louis Brucculeri as executive vice president and general counsel.

“I am excited to welcome Rob, Nancy and Lou to West and look forward to their leadership as we focus on operational excellence, continue to serve our clients by delivering superior products and solutions, and unlock our potential to better innovate and grow the company,” said Shlonsky said in a statement.

West Corp declined to provide additional comment.

The company disclosed its intent to explore financial alternatives last November. The telecom services heavyweight had reportedly struggled to keep its conferencing technology competitive in a cutthroat pricing environment, even as its safety, interactive and specialized agent services practices saw revenue increases.

The Apollo deal brings West Corp private for the first time since 2013, when it was owned by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Quadrangle Group.

Apollo has previous experience dealing in the IT services space, having purchased New York-based Presidio, No. 21 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, in December 2014. Presidio went public in March after filing for an IPO last fall. Apollo also led a group of investors who purchased San Antonio-based public cloud giant Rackspace for $4.3 billion in August 2016.  

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