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AkzoNobel’s No. 2 to Step Down

Thursday, January 16, 2014

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Keith Nichols, 53, the chief financial officer who led AkzoNobel during a turbulent period in 2012 and oversaw its largest acquisition, will leave his position June 30 “after eight highly successful years,” the company announced Wednesday (Jan. 15).

No reason was given for Nichols' departure, although some reports noted that AkzoNobel is based in Amsterdam and Nichols' family is in the U.K. The company said it would mount an international search for his successor.

Ton Buchner and Keith Nichols

Nichols (right) led AkzoNobel for three months in late 2012 when new CEO Ton Büchner went on medical leave shortly after joining the company.

"We thank Keith for his dedication and commitment to AkzoNobel over the past eight years," said CEO Ton Büchner. "He has played a major role in the transformation of the company's portfolio..."

Eventful Tenure

Nichols joined AkzoNobel, then the world's largest paint and coatings company, in 2005. He became CFO in 2008.

His tenure has included AkzoNobel's $17 billion acquisition of Imperial Chemical Industries (the company's largest acquisition ever), its exit from the pharmaceuticals business, its billion-dollar sale of its North American decorative coatings business to PPG Industries, and major changes.

Nichols has also been a key figure in the beleaguered company's multi-year restructuring effort.

In late 2012, he led the firm when Büchner abruptly left for what was billed as a short rest but stretched into a medical leave of three months. Büchner had just joined the company four months earlier.

'Hell of a Journey'

"It's been a hell of a journey," Nichols told Bloomberg. "The company is very different to when I entered in 2005."

Photos: AkzoNobel

Keith Nichols oversaw the integration of AkzoNobel's largest acquisition: the $17 billion purchase of ICI, which was announced in August 2007 and completed Jan. 2, 2008.

Bloomberg noted that Büchner had "assembled a new top-management team" since succeeding long-time CEO Hans Wijers in April 2012.

Büchner said Nichols "has made an outstanding contribution in driving financial discipline and functional excellence across the company."

Before joining Akzo Nobel, Nichols was Group Treasurer at the Corus Group plc. Prior to that, he had held a number of senior finance positions within the TNT Post Group.

"We will miss Keith's valuable and insightful input as well as his hard work and I know that I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in wishing him well for the future," said Büchner.

Added Nichols: "Making a decision like this is never easy, but I leave the company well placed to deliver its 2015 financial targets. I would like to thank my colleagues throughout the company and wish them all the very best for the future."


Tagged categories: AkzoNobel; Business management; ICI Paints; Personnel; PPG

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