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DuPont board wields the knife

The DuPont board of directors has reappointed Edward Breen as CEO in addition to his role as executive chairman, following disappointing results in 2019. Breen (above) had been chairman and CEO from 2015 to the merger with Dow, was CEO of DowDuPont until their merger was completed and had taken a board role at Corteva, the split-out crop protection company, since 2019.

Lori Koch, a company veteran of 17 years who had hitherto been VP of investor relations and of corporate financial planning and analysis, has been named CFO. A former DuPont CFO, Nick Fanandakis, will serve as senior advisor to Breen. As a result, the previous CEO Marc Doyle and CFO Jeanmarie Desmond have left.

“After careful consideration, the board concluded now is the right time to make these leadership changes, including restoring Ed to the chief executive role to draw more directly on his substantial operating experience,” said lead independent director Alexander Cutler.

Q4 2019 saw a significant fall in sales and income, due to weak volumes and falling prices. This was particularly the case in the Transportation & Industrial division, which was hit by the weak automotive market and falling prices for polyamide. This year is not expected to be much better.

Breen himself commented that the company “made some progress in 2019”, but  “we did not meet our own expectations and we now need to move aggressively to secure our foundation for growth … We have solid businesses, but we need to accelerate operational improvement and make sure we are taking appropriate action to deliver on our commitments for the year.”

The company also said that it will continue to advance the initiatives announced in its Q4 and year-end 2019 conference call “to assure that its organisational and cost structures are right sized to reflect the ongoing portfolio changes”. No further details of the implications have yet been announced.

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