Akzo Ousts Chemicals Head Frohn to Prepare for New Chief

Akzo Nobel NV (AKZA), the world’s biggest paintmaker, removed the head of its specialty-chemicals unit as the company shifts managers a month before Ton Buechner takes over as chief executive officer.

Rob Frohn, who ran the specialty-chemicals division following a four-year stint as Akzo’s chief financial officer, will leave May 1 following a 28-year tenure, the Amsterdam-based company said in a statement today. Werner Fuhrmann, Akzo’s supply-chain head, will oversee specialty chemicals on a temporary basis until a successor is found.

Buechner joining Akzo from Swiss pumpmaker Sulzer AG (SUN), where he was CEO. Akzo has earmarked the specialty-chemicals division, last year’s top profit contributor, as a growth pillar. Earlier this year, it bought Boxing Oleochemicals to expand in amines and is budgeting additional investments of at least 355 million euros ($473 million) for plants in Brazil, China and Germany.

“Buechner, the CEO designate, will be responsible for choosing Rob’s successor, and we view this as part of a change process, putting in place his own management team,” Martin Dunwoodie, a London-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, said in a note. “Operational management change is key to the medium-term story at Akzo and we see this as a positive step beginning that process.”

Akzo rose as much as 0.9 percent to 42.97 euros and was trading up 0.8 percent at 42.90 euros at 12:12 p.m. in Amsterdam. The stock has gained 15 percent this year.

Fuhrmann’s main job remains supply-chain and sourcing management, Akzo said. The Dutch company also proposed Sari Baldauf, chairman of Fortum Oyj (FUM1V), and Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) CEO Ben Verwaayen to join its supervisory board, as Virginia Bottomley, of U.K. executive-search company Odgers Berndtson, leaves the board.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Noel in London at anoel@bloomberg.net; Maaike Noordhuis in Amsterdam at mnoordhuis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.