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Akzo Ousts Chemicals Head Frohn to Prepare for New Chief

Akzo Nobel NV, 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, 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, and Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen to join its supervisory board, as Virginia Bottomley, of U.K. executive-search company Odgers Berndtson, leaves the board.

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