Starbucks Corp Executive Chairman Howard Schultz is stepping away from hands-on management at the global coffee chain, effective June 26, fuelling speculation that the outspoken, liberal-leaning executive will make a USA presidential bid.
He became Starbucks' executive chairman a year ago, handing the chief executive job to Kevin Johnson at a time when growth in Starbucks' dominant US market was showing signs of cooling.
Schultz said he had initially meant to announce his retirement last month, but put it on hold after two black men were arrested while sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks in April.
Schultz, who has been outspoken on political and social issues, has long attracted speculation that he will run for office, potentially as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.
"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines", he said.
"One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back", he said.
"I'll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I'm a long way from knowing what the future holds", the business leader wrote in a memo sent to employees on Monday.
"Starbucks changed the way millions of people drink coffee, this is true, but we also changed people's lives in communities around the world for the better", Schultz said in a letter to Starbucks employees.
"I still feel like a kid from Brooklyn who grew up in public housing", Schultz said about his departure.
Starbucks declined to make Schultz or other Starbucks executives and board members available for comment. Together we've done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility. Shares in Starbucks dropped 1 percent to $56.50 in extended trading after the announcement.
Myron Ullman, former CEO of J.C. Penney, will take over for Schultz.
This comes after the controversial episode in which two African American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for trespassing.
The volcano exploded Sunday, sending ash high into the sky and lava flows cascading into rural hamlets on the mountain's slopes. Almost 3,100 people have been evacuated from the affected area, the country's disaster management agency said.
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