FedEx (FDX -0.95%) said Monday night that long-serving chief financial officer Alan Graf would retire later this year, leaving it to his successor to complete a massive overhaul of the business designed to help it to better-compete with a new generation of transport specialists.

Graf, 66, started with FedEx in 1980 and has been CFO since 1998. He intends to stay on until Sept. 22, 2020, and remain at the company as an executive vice president and senior advisor through year's end to help with the transition.

A FedEx cargo plane awaiting takeoff.

Image source: FedEx.

In a statement released Monday, FedEx founder, chairman, and CEO Fred Smith said Graf "helped build and transform this company." Graf will be replaced by current treasurer Mike Lenz, who has been with the company since 2005.

It has been a difficult period for FedEx, with shares down more than 40% over the past three years due to increased competition from one-time customer, as well as the impact of trade wars, tariffs, and more recently the COVID-19 coronavirus. Shares of FedEx closed down more than 9% on Monday, pressured by growing fears that the outbreak would lead to a recession that will slice demand for shipping services.

Graf's retirement is also likely to refocus attention on succession planning at FedEx. Smith, who is 75, has recommended chief operating officer Raj Subramaniam as his future replacement, but says he wants to see through the turnaround he has been orchestrating, and a recovery in the stock, price before he exits. An extended slowdown due to coronavirus would likely push that recovery back quarters, if not years.