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AkzoNobel Names New Decorative Leader

Friday, February 15, 2013

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AkzoNobel has appointed a new overseer for its beleaguered Decorative Paints business, recently walloped by a river of red ink and the sale of its North American business.

On the heels of posting a $3.1 billion loss and the $1.05 billion North American sale, the Dutch paint, coating and specialty chemicals giant announced that Ruud Joosten, who is currently Managing Director of Pulp and Performance Chemicals, would become Executive Committee member for Decorative Paints.

Joosten will succeed Decorative Paints chief Louis Willem "Tex" Gunning, who has been with AkzoNobel since 2009, the company announced Thursday (Feb. 14).

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 change is effective April 26.

'In Good Hands'

Joosten currently heads the pulp and performance business known as Eka Chemicals, which is part of AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals Business Area.

Joosten "has extensive experience in Decorative Paints and has been responsible for both mature and high-growth regions," the company said.

With the impending sale of the Decorative Paints North American business to PPG Industries, 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 said.

"The future of Decorative Paints is in very good hands," said Ton Büchner, CEO of AkzoNobel. "Ruud is a highly competent manager with a strong track record throughout the organization."

'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."

Ups and Downs

Joosten's appointment is just the latest in a year-long series of shakeups at the world's largest paint and coatings maker.

Two weeks ago, the company announced a new director for its North American operations. The fall and winter also saw the company's devastating third-quarter results and the Decorative Paints sale to PPG.

Those moves followed a sluggish first and second quarter and a sudden medical leave by Büchner, who had taken over only last April for longtime CEO Hans Wijers.


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

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