Ak­zoNo­bel CEO Ton Buch­ner steps down for ‘health rea­sons’

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

The Hague, Nether­lands - Ak­zoNo­bel chief ex­ec­u­tive Ton Buch­ner an­nounced on Wed­nes­day he is quit­ting for health rea­sons, leav­ing the world’s lead­ing paint­maker in the throes of a bit­ter le­gal bat­tle af­ter it re­jected a US takeover bid.

‘Buch­ner steps down with im­me­di­ate ef­fect due to health rea­sons’ the com­pany said in a state­ment, ad­ding Thierry Van­lancker has been named as the new CEO.

Am­s­ter­dam-based Ak­zoNo­bel has in re­cent months snubbed three takeover of­fers from US ri­val PPG, the last of which would have val­ued the com­pany at around € 24.6bn.

Pitts­burg-based PPG dropped its third takeover bid for Ak­zoNo­bel in early June af­ter los­ing a first court bat­tle ini­ti­ated by US ac­tivist in­vestors El­liott Advisors.

But on July 7, fund man­ager El­liott re­turned to the fray in its bid to oust the chair­man of the board, Antony Burgmans, seen as the main ob­sta­cle to the takeover.

The ac­tivist in­vestor, which owns 9.5 per cent of shares in the com­pany be­hind the Du­lux and Trimetal brands, said it had filed a pe­ti­tion with an Am­s­ter­dam court for it to order an ex­tra­or­di­nary share­hold­ers’ meet­ing.

El­liott is seek­ing to or­gan­ise the meet­ing in a bid to force a vote on oust­ing Burgmans, but the court hear­ing could still take months.

“This was an ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make but my fo­cus must now be on my health,” said Buch­ner, who joined AzkoNo­bel in 2012.

Burgmans said “Ak­zoNo­bel re­mains fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing for our cus­tomers every day” and praised Van­lancker’s ‘ex­pe­ri­ence in the chem­i­cals and coat­ings in- dus­try’ say­ing he would ‘ con­tinue build­ing mo­men­tum for the com­pany’.

PPG dropped its third takeover bid for AzkoNo­bel on June 1, and now has to wait a legally sub­jected six month cool­ing off pe­riod be­fore mak­ing any fur­ther of­fer.

Ak­zoNo­bel, formed in 1994 from a merger of Dutch and Swedish firms Akzo and No­bel, has mean­while con­tin­ued to throw its sup­port be­hind Burgmans.

Ton Buch­ner

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