Equifax’s chief executive and chairman Richard Smith is stepping down, bowing to public pressure in the wake of a massive data-breach scandal that potentially exposed personal information for millions of consumers, sparked investigations and litigation, and battered its shares.

The credit-reporting agency said Mr Smith is retiring from his positions with immediate effect. Mark Feidler, a current board member, will take over as non-executive chairman. Paulino do Rego Barros, who most recently served as head of Equifax’s Asia-Pacific division will serve as interim CEO while the board conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

“The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident,” said Mr Feidler. “We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize. We have formed a Special Committee of the Board to focus on the issues arising from the incident and to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken.”

Mr Smith’s departure comes just 10 days after Equifax parted ways with its chief security officer and chief information officer.

Shares in Equifax, down more than a quarter since the disclosure of the data-breach earlier this month, were halted for trading ahead of the news.

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