I get paid, in part, to speculate, so here goes:
First, the facts.
The board of Travelport Ltd. named Gordon Wilson deputy CEO of the company, effective Nov. 5.
Wilson, 43, who's been with the company for almost half his life, will retain his current position as President and CEO of Travelport GDS, as well as IT Services and Software.
The announcement doesn't detail it, but presumably Wilson will report to Travelport Ltd. CEO and President Jeff Clarke, who's been on the job since May 2006.
However, the press release about Wilson's appointment doesn't say anything about the reporting structure.
Blackstone Group affiliates turned Travelport, which was part of Cendant, into a privately held company in August 2006.
Wasn't this company supposed to have been flipped already? A deep recession certainly got in the way of an exit strategy.
Anyway, here's what Clarke says of his new deputy CEO:
"This promotion recognizes Gordon's enormous contribution to Travelport's success in leading our GDS and IT Services & Software businesses for the past three years. Gordon is widely respected in the industry for his unyielding commitment to providing the highest quality of service to customers and suppliers. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Gordon as my deputy in addition to his role in managing our largest business."
I've reached out to a few people about Wilson's appointment.
Some take it at face value as a promotion, and a Travelport spokeswoman tells me this is how it should be viewed.
Another industry wag speculates that Wilson's appointment is part of a transition and expects that Clarke will be leaving his post before New Year's.
After all, there has been lots of speculation in the European press that Travelport is readying some form of public offering in London.
Perhaps that will happen soon, and then Clarke would take his leave.
Here are a few other interesting things about the appointment.
Why does Travelport need a deputy CEO, which is a new position for the company? Just to be nice to Wilson for a job well done?
How many companies do you know that have a deputy CEO?
Why did Travelport make Wilson's appointment effective Nov. 5 -- the same day that Travelport revealed its third quarter earnings -- but withhold the news until Nov. 9?
When was the last time you read a press release about a corporate management change that didn't detail who the new appointee would be reporting to?
Travelport had operating income of $93 million before an impairment charge in the third quarter, but on Friday will be announcing what it said would be an $800 to $900 million writedown of its GTA businesses.
Could that impairment charge have something to do with the creation of a deputy CEO slot and Wilson's promotion?
Could it be that the board would be more comfortable with Wilson, who has much broader travel industry experience than Clarke, who came from CA with a pedigree as an integration specialist?
And, another thing: Clarke participated in an executive roundtable in in the 2008 PhoCusWright conference in Hollywood, but is absent from next week's PhoCusWright conference in Orlando.
There could be a lot of reasons Clarke didn't take a speaker's slot, but the Wilson apppointment makes things curiouser and curiouser.
Admittedly, this is all speculation on my part.
Clarke may well be on the scene as the top guy at Travelport for years to come, with Wilson as his right-hand man and deputy, but I'm not putting my money on it.
However, we'll have to wait to see how this plays out to get some real answers.