AkzoNobel announced that CEO Hans Wijers will step down in 2012 and will be succeed by Ton Büchner, the president and CEO of Swiss multinational Sulzer AG, an industrial machinery and equipment manufacturer.
The company’s Supervisory Board said the move is subject to approval at the annual general meeting.
Wijers: Credited with Transforming Company
Wijers, 60, joined AkzoNobel as a member of the Board of Management in October 2002 and was appointed CEO in May 2003.
A former Dutch minister of economic affairs, Wijers transformed the sprawling conglomerate—the product of a history of mergers and acquisitions—into a “focused, global market leader in coatings, specialty chemicals and sustainability,” said Karel Vuursteen, chairman of AkzoNobel’s Supervisory Board.
Wijers shed the company’s pharmaceuticals operations and grew its coatings business, overseeing the acquisition of coatings and specialty chemical company ICI in January 2008, then divesting ICI’s starch business and keeping its then-$613 million-a-year specialty polymers portfolio.
“Hans has built a considerable legacy at AkzoNobel, which bears testament to his skills as a leader and businessman,” said Vuursteen. “He will leave behind a business which is both operationally and financially strong; capable of continuing to grow and to deliver real value to all stakeholders.”
|Ton Büchner (left), the president of Sulzer AG, will replace AkzoNobel CEO Hans Wijers next year.|
Büchner, 45, a Dutch national, started his career as an offshore oil and gas construction engineer with Allseas Engineering in Europe and worked for AkerKvaener throughout Southeast Asia for several years.
He joined Sulzer in 1994 and has been CEO of the publicly traded company since 2007. His tenure included the presidencies of two divisions, Sulzer Turbomachinery Services and Sulzer Pumps. He was also responsible for Sulzer operations in China.
Vuursteen said Büchner’s “proven strategic experience leading a public company, and his expertise in the global industrial arena, make him the ideal candidate for this role.”
“He also has an excellent track record of delivering strong results and experience of leading businesses in high-growth markets. We look forward to Ton joining us in January and building on the strong foundations left by his predecessor.”