His appointment on Tuesday comes days after Declan Kelly, who co-founded the company in 2011, stepped down as chairman and CEO after the Financial Times exposed allegations that he inappropriately touched six women during his ‘a charity event in May.
Teneo has struggled to stabilize after General Motors canceled a recently signed $ 250,000 per month contract in response, raising fears of a mass exodus of other important customers, as well as staff concerned about the future. of the company.
Kelly, who had originally planned to remain in charge, resigned last week and said in a statement that he had made “an unintentional, public and embarrassing error for which I have taken full responsibility and apologized to them. people directly concerned, as well as to my colleagues and clients ”.
Kelly’s departure comes just seven months after the departure of Doug Band, a former aide to US President Bill Clinton, with whom he started the business.
Burns, who is one of the few African-American business leaders in the United States and serves on boards of directors including ExxonMobil and Uber, has worked as a senior advisor to Teneo since 2017 after resigning from Xerox.
After the allegations came to light, Burns told the New York Times: “It’s a friend of mine who certainly had a bad event – and he’s got to face it, and he’s dealing with it as it goes. as we go along. The duo are in the process of raising funds for a private equity firm called Integrum which they launched together in April along with two other partners.
“I have a deep understanding of the business, the needs of its customers and a sincere appreciation for all of Teneo’s great professionals around the world,” Burns said in a statement.
Paul Keary, another co-founder of Teneo who was appointed CEO last week, said in an internal memo announcing Burns’ appointment: “I realize that recent events have been difficult for everyone. “
He added: “I have been incredibly encouraged by the support we have received from so many customers and friends. “
Teneo’s troubles have also put pressure on private equity group CVC Capital Partners, which has invested at least $ 450 million in the company since becoming its majority shareholder in 2019.
Christopher Stadler, CVC North America business manager, oversees Teneo’s investment and is also co-chair of Global Citizen, the charity group that hosted the Vax Live concert on May 2 where Kelly’s alleged inappropriate behavior took place. .
Teneo markets itself as the world’s leading CEO consultancy with a client list including Coca-Cola, General Electric and Tesco. Following an agreement to acquire Deloitte’s UK restructuring business last month, the company employs 1,250 people and has revenues of nearly $ 400 million.