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Turnaround CEO leaves Tower Records

WEST SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Tower Records' interim Chief Executive Betsy Burton has left the troubled music retailer.

When Burton, a well-regarded corporate turnaround specialist, was hired eight months ago, she became the first outsider to run the company since Russ Solomon founded Tower in 1960. Solomon remains chairman emeritus and his son, Michael, is the president.

Analysts had looked to Burton, who also acted as the chief restructuring officer, to improve performance as the company continued to lose money. Although Tower posted another loss in the quarter ending Jan. 31 -- its 11th loss in the past 12 quarters -- analysts said the numbers showed improvement.

"I saw her as the one to come in and turn around the company," said analyst Carla Casella, who follows Tower for JPMorgan Chase Securities in New York.

It's unclear why Burton left and company officials did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Under Burton's direction, Tower closed unprofitable stores, ousted several top executives and laid off about 15 percent of the headquarters and distribution staff in West Sacramento.

Allen Rodriguez, a former executive vice president with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. in Los Angeles, will become Tower's chief restructuring officer. It's unclear if he'll take over as the interim CEO as well.

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