ABB Ltd. (ABBN), the world’s biggest supplier of power grids, appointed Eric Elzvik as chief financial officer, leaning on a company veteran of almost three decades to help integrate $10 billion of recent acquisitions.
Elzvik, who has Swiss-Swedish dual citizenship, will start on Feb. 1, Zurich-based ABB said in a statement today. He takes over from Michel Demare, who announced last month that he is leaving to become chairman of crop-chemical maker Syngenta AG. (SYNN)
The new finance chief secured the job against a “a strong bench of internal candidates,” according to ABB. Chief Executive Officer Joe Hogan has recruited all of his appointments to the executive board from inside the company, with the exception of Chief Technology Officer Prith Banerjee.
“He is a very experienced person in the company and has been there almost 30 years,” said Christoph Ladner, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets in Zurich. “Picking an outside candidate would have been demotivating to existing employees.”
Elzvik now oversees the finances of ABB’s discrete automation and motion division. Hogan, who joined from General Electric Co. (GE) in 2008, has made a string of acquisitions that include Thomas & Betts Corp. at the start of this year. Elzvik formerly led mergers and acquisitions at ABB.
ABB shares fell as much as 1.4 percent to 16.83 francs and traded at 17 francs as of 11:24 a.m. in Zurich.
The new CFO inherits a balance sheet that Demare helped rebuild since 2005. Demare, who was interim CEO for seven months in 2008, also raised $2.5 billion in a sale of bonds in May at ABB’s lowest ever interest rates.
As head of the company’s group finances Elzvik will be responsible for evaluating and financing takeovers, which still has as much as $10 billion to spend on new deals.
The 52-year-old executive joined ABB in 1984. A successor for the role of discrete automation & motion finance chief will be announced in due course, ABB said.
“Eric is a familiar figure to bankers and the financial community, and his presence guarantees continuity in terms of financial strategy and governance,” Hogan said in a statement today.
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