Wednesday 18 September 2019

AkzoNobel CEO Ton Büchner steps down with immediate effect

Photo: AkzoNobel

Beleaguered Dutch paints and coatings group AkzoNobel said on Wednesday its CEO Ton Büchner was stepping down with immediate effect, citing health reasons.

Thierry Vanlancker, now head of the group’s speciality chemicals unit, has replaced Büchner. Vanlancker, a Belgian national, joined the company in 2016. Prior to that he was president of the Fluorproducts subsidiary of Chemours, the spin-off company formed in 2015 from US-based DuPont’s chemicals businesses.

AkzoNobel is now readying plans to divest its specialty chemicals division.

The Dutch company was targeted by its US rival PPG Industries in early March and made three bids for Akzo, the last valuing the company at €26.9bn.

AkzoNobel’s position has been further complicated by a series of lawsuits launched by its biggest shareholder, vulture fund Elliott Management. Elliott is seeking enhaced shareholder value and specifically wants Antony Burgmans removed as AkzoNobel’s supervisory board chairman.

Cash flow

Büchner joined AkzoNobel in 2012 and has been responsible for significantly improving the performance of the company, increasing profitability and cash flow to record level, AkzoNobel said in its statement.

‘He put in place a solid operational and financial foundation, which enabled the company to recently announce the creation of two focused high performing businesses: paints and coatings and specialty chemicals.’

Büchner’s health has been a matter of concern in the past. Shortly after becoming CEO he suffered a burnout and stepped aside for several months.

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