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CNN Today

Firestone to Tap U.S. CEO

Aired October 10, 2000 - 1:12 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Two months and a day into the massive tire recall, Bridgestone/Firestone is getting new leadership. The company is in the process of replacing 6 1/2 million tires in a safety controversy threatening the very future of the Firestone brand.

CNN has learned that the company's chairman and CEO will step down today.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us from Bridgestone/Firestone headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.

Susan, what's happening?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Lou.

We are at hotel in downtown Nashville, where this announcement is expected to take place in about an hour from now. The man expected to take over Bridgestone/Firestone's U.S. operations, a company source tells CNN, is John Lampe. Currently, he is vice president of sales and marketing, and helped make successful the company's Dayton tire brand.

Now, Lampe has been front and center during congressional testimony on behalf of Bridgestone/Firestone. He did admit there's a defect in some of the recalled tires. Something CEO Masatoshi Ono does not. Mr. Ono is the one who is expected to voluntarily step down, a company source says.

Mr. Ono, during a deposition in a civil lawsuit against the tire maker that is currently being taken here in Nashville, at least it was yesterday, testified that no defect has been found. He said there is a safety problem.

The question, of course, is what impact today's announcement will have on the recall of the 6 1/2 million tires already under way. Those are the ATX, the ATXII, and the Wilderness AT tires. All of these questions to be put to Mr. Lampe at today's news conference, including what steps he may plan to take to help try to restore public confidence in the company.

Lou, back to you.

WATERS: OK, Susan Candiotti, who is not at Bridgestone/Firestone headquarters, but is closely following the story which will develop in less than an hour, 2:00 Eastern, we are expected to hear at a news conference about those Firestone personnel changes. CNN plans live coverage when that happens.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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