AkzoNobel CEO Ton Buchner steps down for ‘health reasons’
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.