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Dignam named Chemours President, CEO

Katie Tabeling

Chemours President and CEO Denise Dignam. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CHEMOURS

WILMINGTON — Chemours has tapped Denise Dignam as its next leader, within a month of placing President and CEO Mark Newman and other financial executives on leave amid an accounting investigation. 

The leadership change was announced late Friday afternoon and effective immediately, although Dignam had served as interim CEO since Feb. 29, when the company first launched a probe into its financial reports and internal controls. 

At that time, Chemours also placed Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Lock and Principal Accounting Officer Carmela Wisel on leave while the board of directors started its investigation. Chemours had also repeatedly delayed its financial filings for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Chemours officials were not immediately available to the Delaware Business Times for comment about the transition.

Dignam joined Chemours in 2015, roughly around the same time the chemical titan spun off from DuPont. She has held various executive roles at the company and DuPont, and her resume boasts of 35 years of experience in the chemical industry.

In a prepared statement, Dignam said she was honored to be named to the top job and was committed to leading with “transparency as we do the hard work required to continue building our businesses for today and into the future.”

“Chemours is defined by its leading chemistries, the customer applications that our chemistries enable, our manufacturing capabilities, and as importantly, our people and core values. Looking ahead, I will be focused on strengthening our portfolio with high-value and emerging growth opportunities, and ensuring we are operating as efficiently, effectively, and safely as possible,” she added.

Prior to being appointed interim CEO, Dignam served as president of Titanium Technologies since March 2023. On her watch, that division saw significant operational savings and developed process improvements for better resource use across the manufacturing circuit.

Before that, she was the president of the company’s Advanced Performance Materials between 2021 and 2023. In that role, Dignam reshaped products in that department to focus on growth opportunities in clean energy and electronics. She was also a driving force behind forging new strategic partnerships. 

Both Titanium Technologies and Advanced Performance Materials represent more than 68% of Chemours net sales last year.

Other notable highlights of her career include leading Chemours’ restructuring of manufacturing as vice president of Fluoroproducts operations and serving as the North American leader for fluoropolymers and global business leader for ion membrane Nafion and industrial lubricant Krytox. A Drexel University alumna, she also serves on the board of directors of the National Mining Association and Kulicke & Soffa.

“Denise has the full support of the board, and we are pleased to have an experienced and capable executive who is so highly regarded inside and outside Chemours,” Chemours Board Chair Dawn Farrell said in a press statement. “Denise is a high-caliber leader who has the experience and capability to build value for shareholders while upholding our core values and serving our valued customers.”

Dignam’s base salary is $975,000, retroactive to her appointment as interim CEO. But other targeted annual bonus opportunities open up 120% of her annual base salary and include incentives up to $4.3 million.

At the heart of Chemours’ internal audit is that three executives, including Newman, altered the appearance of the company’s cash flow targets to trigger the company’s executive incentive plan. Chemours’ free cash flow drove about 40% of the $1 million bonus that Newman himself received.

As the Chemours board continues with its audit, it has fallen out of compliance with the New York Stock Exchange due to long delays in filing its latest quarterly report. The NYSE notified the Teflon manufacturer earlier this week that it has six months from March 15 to submit its financial report.

Chemours’ internal turmoil has prompted other executive changes. Interim Chief Financial Officer Matthew Abbott would remain in place while the company searches for a permanent replacement. 

Meanwhile, Chemours and Newman entered into a separation agreement on March 22. That agreement outlines that Newman’s vested company stock options granted in April 2017 would remain exercisable until 2027.

Newman was paid his salary up until March 22, but will not be entitled to the 2023 or 2024 annual cash incentive or the 2024 equity-based award.

This story has been updated.

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