Issue Date: November 29, 2004
Norris Steps Down; Festa, Up As Grace CEO
Paul J. Norris, 57, will step down as CEO of W.R. Grace, effective May 31, 2005. However, he will remain on the company's board of directors as nonexecutive chairman, focusing on its bankruptcy reorganization. Fred Festa, 45, who joined Grace a year ago as president and chief operating officer, will take on the CEO job.
Norris joined Grace from AlliedSignal, now Honeywell, in November 1998 with a mandate to drive growth and productivity at the firm. He introduced Six Sigma management initiatives to the company and arranged small acquisitions in catalysts, construction chemicals, and chromatographic separations, but mounting asbestos liabilities forced him to seek court protection in 2001.
Following the filing of the firm's plan of reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware earlier this month, Norris said, "I believe that this is the appropriate time to complete the transition of responsibilities from me to Fred."
Festa joined Grace from Morgenthaler Private Equity, an $850 million venture buyout firm, where he was a partner. He has held finance and management positions at General Electric and AlliedSignal and has a B.S. in finance from the State University of New York, Oswego.
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