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Shakeups Continue at AkzoNobel

Monday, February 18, 2013

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For the third time in 10 months, AkzoNobel has announced a major change at the top, this time appointing a new overseer for its struggling global Decorative Paints business.

Ruud Joosten, the company's Managing Director of Pulp and Performance Chemicals, will become Executive Committee member for Decorative Paints, succeeding Louis Willem "Tex" Gunning, AkzoNobel announced Thursday (Feb. 14).

Joosten's appointment follows the recent announcement of a new director for North American operations. And CEO Ton Büchner assumed his position only late last April, succeeding longtime CEO Hans Wijers. Büchner's new tenure was also abruptly interrupted by a medical leave of several months.

Ruud Joosten Tex Gunning

Ruud Joosten (left) will replace Tex Gunning in April. Gunning has headed Decorative Paints since 2009. Joosten currently leads pulp and performance chemicals.

The changes are effective April 26.

Troubled Business

Joosten's appointment also comes on the heels of a $3.1 billion loss in the company's Decorative Paints business, a sluggish financial year for the company overall, and news of the impending $1.05 billion sale of its North American Decorative Paints business to PPG Industries.

Given the sell-off of the North American unit, Joosten will focus in his new assignment "on adapting Decorative Paints Europe to the challenging market environment and on further expanding Decorative Paints' presence in key growth markets," the company's announcement said.

Despite the business's recent challenges, "the future of Decorative Paints is in very good hands," Büchner said in a statement. "Ruud is a highly competent manager with a strong track record throughout the organization."

Joosten currently heads the pulp and performance business known as Eka Chemicals, which is part of AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals Business. However, he also "has extensive experience in Decorative Paints and has been responsible for both mature and high-growth regions," AkzoNobel said.

'A Critical Role'

Gunning, 62, spent more than 25 years with Unilever, then was appointed CEO of Vedior. He joined AkzoNobel in his current positiion in 2009.

An economist, Gunning has been "a strong advocate and social entrepreneur in helping to find answers to some of the world’s largest social environmental challenges," according to AkzoNobel.

As head of Decorative Paints, Gunning "played a crucial role in the integration of ICI's paints activities into the AkzoNobel organization, resulting in substantial synergy savings," the company said.

AkzoNobel said Gunning "oversaw the turnaround of Decorative Paints in North America, substantially restructured the European activities, and grew the business significantly in high-growth markets."

He also "rationalized the Decorative Paints' brand portfolio, including the creation of a new global brand identity and a worldwide 'Let's Color' marketing program," the company said.

Büchner thanked Gunning "for his excellent service to the company" and wished him "a happy retirement."

The company's fourth-quarter and year-end financial report are scheduled to be released Wednesday (Feb. 20).


Tagged categories: Acquisitions; AkzoNobel; Business matters; Decorative painting; Personnel; PPG

Comment from Joe Lyons, (2/18/2013, 11:24 AM)

akzo Noble made a big mistake buying glidden paint. They should have purchased Sherwin Williams paint company. Still needs too.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/19/2013, 8:51 AM)

Sherwin Williams has a larger market cap* (is worth more than) Akzo. How exactly are they supposed to buy SW? *at today's prices, exchange rates, etc.

Comment from Jeff Croll, (2/20/2013, 7:26 AM)

Akzo Nobel and the previous owner of Glidden, ICI, never seemed to "get" the ownership of bricks-and-mortar stores.

Comment from John Fauth, (2/20/2013, 8:45 AM)

I agree with Jeff. There are those who excel at manufacturing, and those who excel at distribution. But rarely does a company excel at both.

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