Longtime FedEx GC Christine Richards to Retire in September

FedEx Corp. general counsel Christine Richards is retiring from her role, effective Sept. 30, according to an announcement from the company Thursday. Her successor has not yet been named.

Richards joined the FedEx legal department from private practice over three decades ago, in 1984. She served in a variety of leadership positions, including corporate vice president of customer and business transactions from March 2001 to June 2005. In June 2005, she assumed her current position as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary.

"Christine Richards has provided bold and innovative leadership in successfully addressing a wide variety of critical legal, regulatory and security challenges and opportunities for FedEx," Frederick Smith, FedEx chairman and chief executive officer, said in the announcement. "Her untiring work ethic and in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the business have made her service as a counselor and business partner invaluable."

Richards took a lead role in a number of negotiations and acquisitions at FedEx, according to the announcement, including the Memphis-based company's acquisition of Dutch shipping company TNT Express NV for $4.8 billion in May 2016. Last month, TNT Express' worldwide operations were impacted by international cyberattack Petya, causing widespread delays in deliveries. 

"At this time, we cannot estimate how long it will take to restore the systems that were impacted and it is reasonably possible that TNT Express will be unable to fully restore all of the affected systems and recover all of the critical business data that was encrypted by the virus," FedEx said in a July 17 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. "[W]e are still evaluating the financial impact of the attack, but it is likely that it will be material," the company added.

Last year, Richards in her role for FedEx penned a letter to the SEC related to efforts to make businesses disclose their environmental impact and stances on public policy matters. "[Environmental, social and governance] issues are often promoted by or relevant to only a small subset of investors or other stakeholders," Richards wrote in the July 21, 2016, letter. "While reporting companies should remain free to disclose ESG information on a voluntary basis (as FedEx does), disclosure of such information should continue to be based on a traditional materiality standard and not mandated."

Back in 2010, Richards joined a number of legal executives who objected to proposed rules from the Financial Accounting Standards Board that called for more disclosure from companies on their financial loss contingencies. But the project was removed from the FASB's agenda in July 2012, according to the organization's website.

FedEx declined to comment on Richards' retirement beyond Thursday's announcement.

Contributing Author

Jennifer Williams-Alvarez

Jennifer Williams-Alvarez is a staff reporter for ALM Media and Inside Counsel. She can be contacted at jwilliams@alm.com.

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