MOVES: Cepsa headhunts Dow exec to lead chemicals, reorganises structure

Author: Jonathan Lopez

2020/05/21

LONDON (ICIS)--Cepsa has appointed Dow executive Paloma Alonso as head of its chemicals division, effective 15 July, the Spanish energy and petrochemicals major said on Thursday.

Alonso succeeds Jose Manuel Martinez, who will now lead the newly-created Technical and Operations department.

She had worked at Dow for the past 23 years; in her last position at the US chemicals major she was business director for hydrocarbons.

In her new role, Alonso will also be responsible for the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) activities.

She will be the only woman in Cepsa's nine-strong executive committee.

CHANGE AT PACE
The appointment was announced as part of a large corporate reorganisation started in October 2019 after a new CEO was appointed following US private equity fund Carlyle’s acquisition of a 37% stake at the firm.

Financial details were not made public, but analysts estimated Carlyle would have paid around $12bn to former 100%-owner, Abu Dhabi's investment fund Mubadala.

As of 1 June, Cepsa’s new divisions will be Exploration & Production; Refining; Chemicals; Sales; and Trading, Gas & Power & Renewables.

Cepsa’s chemicals division performed well in the first quarter, unlike other divisions which suffered greatly from Spain’s lockdown started in mid-March to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Cepsa’s domestic market outlook for this year is dire as the pandemic hit Spain hard, with analysts estimating GDP could fall around 10%, compared with 2019.

While a rebound is expected in 2021, the economy would not reach pre-pandemic levels until 2022 or the year after; already-high unemployment is expected to soar further as Spain's predominant, employment-intensive services sectors take the greatest hit.

Cepsa however did not mention the pandemic on Thursday, arguing the reorganisation responded to a need to “meet the challenges” of the energy transition as well as its international expansion.

“To achieve these goals, we will optimise our integrated business model, enhance our competitiveness and continue to pursue operational excellence,” said Cepsa's CEO Philippe Boisseau.