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EMC’s Tucci still flexible about retirement plans

EMC CEO and chairman Joe Tucci this week left open the door to remaining as CEO past next February, and slammed it shut on the possibility of selling off VMware.

Tucci spoke Thursday at Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions 2014 investor conference. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi introduced Tucci by saying “This is purportedly Joe’s last year as CEO.”

Sacconaghi then asked Tucci about his plans as EMC Federation’s CEO. Tucci has already postponed his retirement twice, and his contract expires in February 2015. After that, plans call for him to remain as chairman and relinquish the CEO job to a person within EMC – likely either EMC storage CEO David Goulden, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger or Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz.

But Tucci said that plan is far from cast in stone. He said he would stay on if the board –- which he chairs – wants him to.

“What I’ve said to our board is, that’s like a target date,” Tucci said. “First of all, we’re blessed with some great CEOs in the federation today. And if they think the timing is right and they’d like to do it previous to February I’m fine with that. If they think they’d like a little more time, I’m also fine with that. And I’m not talking about years, I’m talking in terms of months. So there is no bright line drawn in the sand that February 6 at two o’clock in the morning … There is a lot of flexibility and if asked, and that’s the way the board is indicating they’d like me to, I would gladly stay on.”

Sacconaghi asked Tucci how he would react to shareholder calls for EMC to sell off all or some of the 80 percent of VMware that it owns. Tucci said EMC Federation, which includes VMware, Pivotal and RSA Security, provides all the pieces for a software-defined data center and is better as a large company.

“It’s better together,” he said. “Collectively, it’s just a lot stronger story. If you look at who is going at this market, these are big companies. These are companies called IBM, these are companies called Cisco. I think if you break it up, you just weaken every part.”

He added, “I don’t have any plans to buy back the 20 percent (of VMware) we don’t own. I don’t have any plans to sell any of the 80 percent we do own.”

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