Changing Of The Guards | September 21, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 38 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 38 | p. 11 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 21, 2009

Changing Of The Guards

New CEOs: Moves at the top are afoot for Bayer, Nova, and IFF
Department: Business
Keywords: Bayer, Nova Chemicals, International Flavors & Fragrances

Chief executive officers at three chemical companies—Bayer, Nova Chemicals, and International Flavors & Fragrances—are stepping down.

Bayer CEO Werner Wenning, 62, will be replaced by a Bayer outsider: Marijn E. Dekkers, 51, CEO of laboratory equipment maker Thermo Fisher Scientific. Wenning will serve until September 2010, which is eight months beyond his contract.

Dekkers will take over at Bayer on Oct. 1, 2010. In the meantime, he will head Bayer Healthcare. The current Bayer Healthcare CEO, 52-year-old Arthur J. Higgins, will leave Bayer early next year “for personal reasons,” according to the firm.

A Dutch-born, U.S.-naturalized Ph.D. chemical engineer, Dekkers started his career in 1985 at General Electric’s research center in Niskayuna, N.Y. He left GE in 1995 for AlliedSignal (now Honeywell International), where he had stints running businesses in specialty films, fluorine chemicals, and electronic materials.

Dekkers joined instrument maker Thermo Electron in 2000 as chief operating offer and became CEO in 2002. He presided over a corporate restructuring that was punctuated by Thermo’s 2006 merger with Fisher Scientific. Dekker’s tenure at Thermo Fisher saw a nearly fivefold expansion of revenues. He will be replaced by Marc N. Casper, 40, now the firm’s COO.

Andrew Benson, a stock analyst with Citigroup, praises Wenning’s major moves at Bayer, including the acquisitions of Aventis CropScience, Roche’s over-the-counter drug business, and Schering. But Bayer is among the last of the European drug-chemical hybrid firms, along with Merck KGaA and Solvay. “He remained wedded to its conglomerate structure,” Benson told clients, a stance that has undermined the “creation of value” for Bayer shareholders. “Dr. Dekkers should bring new thinking and has a strong track record,” Benson said. He speculates that Higgins is leaving Bayer because he was passed over for the CEO job.

Cornelia Thomas, associate director of life sciences equity research at WestLB, is of two minds on whether Dekkers’ appointment signals a split of drugs and chemicals at Bayer. Dekkers “is a corporate makeover guy,” she says. “But he has been working for chemical companies for more time than he was at Thermo Fisher” and might not favor a breakup.

Thomas notes, however, that midsized pharmaceutical companies like Bayer need to consolidate and that Bayer “can’t get a big fish with its current balance sheet.”

In another surprise move, Christopher D. Pappas, 53, is retiring as CEO of Nova at the end of this year. He assumed the role only four months ago, when he replaced longtime CEO Jeffrey M. Lipton. Pappas had previously been Nova’s COO.


International Petroleum Investment Co., based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, bought Nova in July. Now, IPIC praises Pappas for his “enormous support” of the acquisition. IPIC hasn’t named a successor for Pappas.

In addition, IFF’s CEO since 2006, Robert M. Amen, 59, has resigned, effective at the end of this month. Douglas D. Tough, 59, an IFF director and CEO of Australian glove and condom maker Ansell, will fill Amen’s shoes.

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