Equifax names former GE executive Mark Begor as CEO

(Reuters) - Credit-monitoring firm Equifax Inc EFX.N named former General Electric Co GE.N executive Mark Begor as chief executive officer on Wednesday, as it looks to regain investor confidence after being hit by a massive data breach.

FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

Begor’s appointment comes about six months after Richard Smith quit as CEO following mounting criticism over the attack that could be the most expensive hack in corporate history.

Begor, 59, was most recently a managing director with private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Before that he worked with GE for 35 years in various roles.

Shares of Equifax rose 2.3 percent to close at $119.04. They have fallen 19 percent since the hack.

Begor will be tasked with the challenge of repairing the tarnished image of the company and win back customers, after the breach prompted outrage from politicians and consumer advocates, government probes and the departure of top executives.

Listing his priorities, Begor said he would continue the “team’s efforts to communicate transparently and restore confidence with consumers, customers, shareholders, and policymakers.”

“Most critically, we will continue to invest in and strengthen our IT and data security,” he added.

Begor will start at Equifax on April 16. His base salary would be $1.5 million, according to a filing.

Equifax said in September that hackers had stolen personally identifiable information of U.S., UK and Canadian consumers, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses driver’s license and credit card numbers.

The company projected earlier this month that costs related to the breach could surge by $275 million this year.

Costs have already been weighing on the company’s earnings. For the fourth quarter, it recorded expenses, net of insurance recoveries, of $26.5 million related to the breach.

The company had appointed Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. as interim CEO, who will retire from Equifax in early 2019, Equifax said in a statement.

Reporting by Parikshit Mishra and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty