NEWPORT BEACH, CA-The Irvine Co. has named longtime company exec and vice chairman Michael D. McKee as CEO, the first person to hold the title at the company in the 30 years since chairman Donald Bren took the reins of the firm. McKee has long served as No. 2 to chairman Bren, the Irvine Co.’s sole shareholder, who says that the new title reflects a need to adjust the company’s management structure.

As the Irvine Co. has grown “more complex and geographically dispersed,” Bren and the company’s board “have concluded that we must adjust our management structure to continue to be effective and efficient,” Bren said in a memo to employees announcing the move. Bren said he will continue to be an active chairman and “deeply involved in the company’s long-term vision and strategies.”

Since joining the Irvine Co. in 1994 as chief legal officer, McKee has risen steadily in the executive ranks at the Irvine Co., being named chief financial officer in 1996, vice chairman in 1999 and chief operating officer in 2001. Since 2001, Bren and McKee have constituted an operations committee responsible for overseeing all of the company’s operating divisions.

In addition to his duties on the operations committee with Bren, McKee has been directly responsible for the administrative, financial, legal and information technology functions. He has also chaired the company’s strategic planning committee.

Before joining the Irvine Co. McKee was the managing partner of the Orange County office of the Latham & Watkins law firm. He specialized in corporate finance matters, with special emphasis on investment banker and public company representation, a position in which he represented the Irvine Co. on several occasions.

McKee steps into the CEO post 30 years after Bren and a group of investors acquired the Irvine Co., with Bren later buying out the other shareholders. For the past 25 years, Bren has been chairman of the Irvine Co., a 140-year-old privately held concern that has masterplanned and developed the Irvine Ranch in Orange County.

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