PENN TRAFFIC'S TOP EXECUTIVE LEAVES

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Penn Traffic Co. here said last week Joseph Fisher, the company's president and chief executive officer, has resigned, further unsettling the company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 30.Penn Traffic has named Steven Panagos, currently its chief restructuring officer, interim CEO, and established a CEO search committee consisting of Peter Zurkow, Penn Traffic's

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Penn Traffic Co. here said last week Joseph Fisher, the company's president and chief executive officer, has resigned, further unsettling the company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 30.

Penn Traffic has named Steven Panagos, currently its chief restructuring officer, interim CEO, and established a CEO search committee consisting of Peter Zurkow, Penn Traffic's chairman; Kevin Collins, the company's audit committee chairman; and two members of its board -- David Jenkins, former chairman of Shaw's Supermarkets, West Bridgewater, Mass., and Byron Allumbaugh, former chairman of Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif.

Fisher will remain on the company's board, Penn Traffic said.

The company also said it expected to close a $270 million debtor-in-possession financing late last week. The DIP financing had been approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., earlier in the week.

The company said Fisher resigned for "personal family reasons."

Some industry observers said the departure of Fisher bodes poorly for Penn Traffic. Gary Giblen, senior vice president and director of research, C L King Associates, New York, told SN, "Joe Fisher did well given the constraints he was under. He was really the linchpin of the company." Giblen noted that Penn Traffic's post-Fisher future "may not be as an operating company."

Fisher is the second top executive to leave Penn Traffic in the last four months. In May, Martin Fox resigned as executive vice president and chief financial officer a week before the company filed for Chapter 11. At the time, Penn Traffic officials said the resignation of Fox was purely for personal reasons.

Fisher joined Penn Traffic as president and CEO in November 1998, and led the company through a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 reorganization the following year. He had previously been president and CEO of Big V Supermarkets, Florida, N.Y.