Unplanned outages: where are they now?

03 December 2007 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Shakeouts are not uncommon in the world of chemicals. But this year has been exceptional and prompted ICIS to add a new section to its Top 40 Power Players feature

ICIS' 2007 "unplanned outages" list includes a handful of executives who have fallen foul of board reshuffles. We wait to hear more of the fate of others.


John Browne, erstwhile chairman of BP and darling of the City, left the oil giant in May in a storm of controversy. Lord Browne could not outlive the "white lie" he told in court to protect his private life. But the BP chief was already under pressure as BP's performance stumbled and the company was rocked by investigations into the disastrous explosion and fire at its Texas City, Texas, US, refinery. Browne has secured a new full-time job with private equity firm Riverstone Holdings.


BASF board member Peter Oakley left the chemicals giant this year, according to the company at his own request, to pursue a new business opportunity following the transformation of BASF AG into BASF SE. The chemical giant streamlined its executive board, of which Oakley was a member from 1998, ahead of the transformation into a pan-European group. It was unclear, at the time of going to press, what opportunities 54-year-old Oakley is ready to pursue.


A corporate reshuffle at Celanese has put Lyndon Cole on our list. Head of performance plastics producer Ticona from 2002 and a member of the Celanese board from 2003, Cole was formerly CEO of Elementis and commercial director of GE Plastics in Europe. ICIS hears that he is expected to surface in another role in the sector in Europe, possibly with SABIC.


Much excitement was generated earlier this year when it looked as though sector giant Dow Chemical might be a takeover target. The rumors forced the dismissal of two 30-year-plus Dow veterans: former chief financial officer and adviser to the board Pedro Reinhard and executive vice president of performance plastics and chemicals, Romeo Kreinberg. Adding real froth to the usually staid world of chemicals, the company sued the executives, who promptly responded with lawsuits of their own. US investment bank JPMorgan Chase - dragged into this heady mix - was claimed to have been acting as an investment adviser for a buyout team that included the government of Oman, private equity groups and other potential investors. This story of blame and intrigue has a long way to run.


In the calmer waters of industry advocacy, Judith Hackitt, one of our Top 40 performers last year, left the European chemical industry federation CEFIC in 2007 as the association's Chemistry for Europe project wound down. Introduced to cut costs and complexities at the Brussels-based industry trade group, Hackitt ruffled feathers and pushed through some reorganization among Europe's chemicals trade associations. But her job was never easy. She has, however, moved on to better things and in October took over as chair of the UK's Health and Safety Commission, the supervisory board of the country's Health and Safety Executive.

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