Ursula BurnsXerox Corp. said Thursday that Chief Executive Anne Mulcahy will retire July 1, to be succeeded by Ursula Burns, the printer and copier maker’s president. She will make Xerox the largest U.S. company to be headed by a black woman.

The move has been in the works since Burns, 50, became heir apparent and company president in April 2007.

No company in the Fortune 500 has ever had a black woman as CEO, according to Daniel Kile, a spokesman for the magazine.

Burns, who joined Xerox in 1980, takes the top job in a period of renewed stress on the company, as the recession crimps spending on printer equipment and supplies. Xerox said late last year it would cut 3,000 jobs to reduce costs, and the company’s first-quarter revenue fell 18 percent.

Mulcahy, 56, will continue to chair the Xerox board.

After joining Xerox as a sales representative in 1976 and rising through management ranks, she became CEO in 2001 when the company fired G. Richard Thoman amid mounting losses. Mulcahy is credited with leading the Norwalk, Conn.-based company out of its financial slump.

“As CEO, Anne successfully led a multibillion-dollar turnaround of Xerox and transformed the business into an innovative digital technology and services enterprise,” Xerox’s lead independent director, N.J. Nicholas Jr., said in a statement Thursday.

Xerox shares slipped 8 cents, about 1.2 percent, to $6.82 Thursday. They have traded between $4.12 and $14.62 over the past year.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.