DuPont brings back Breen in leadership shakeup
WILMINGTON – DuPont announced early Tuesday morning that its board has appointed Edward “Ed” Breen back to his previous role as CEO, replacing Marc Doyle after he served less than a year in the head role.
Breen, 63, was instrumental in overseeing DuPont’s brief merger with Dow and its subsequent split of its divisions, which formed Corteva out of DowDuPont’s agriscience division.
The company announced that its Board of Directors had appointed Breen, who was serving as its executive chairman, to the role of CEO. It also appointed Lori D. Koch, vice president of investor relations and corporate financial planning and analysis, to the chief financial officer position, replacing Jeanmarie Desmond.
Both appointments are effective immediately, and both Doyle and Desmond have departed the company, officials reported. According to a filing with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, the company will pay both benefits in line with a laid-off employee.
Breen will leave his seat on Corteva’s board of directors in conjunction with the move, but will remain executive chairman on the DuPont board, the company reported.
In a Tuesday morning press release, DuPont said the changes were necessary to “changes to accelerate operational performance improvement and to more directly tap Ed Breen’s significant management experience.”
“Since he first assumed the chairman and CEO role of DuPont in 2015, Ed Breen led the company through an extensive transformation to further unlock the potential of its distinctive capabilities, innovative portfolio and deep customer relationships,” said Alexander M. Cutler, DuPont’s lead independent director, in a statement. “After careful consideration, the Board concluded now is the right time to make these leadership changes, including restoring Ed to the chief executive role to draw more directly on his substantial operating experience. The Board is confident that together Ed and Lori will improve operational performance and ensure DuPont fully delivers on its significant potential for long-term value creation.”
Although he thanked Doyle and Desmond in a statement released by the company, Breen added that “we did not meet our own expectations [in 2019] and we now need to move aggressively to secure our foundation for growth.” Breen emphasized that DuPont has “solid businesses,” but noted that the company needs to “accelerate operational improvement” action to deliver on this year’s commitments.
DuPont’s stock has fallen 31.2% over the past 12 months as of Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 13.6%. Although the company reported fourth-quarter earnings that were in line with expectations, share values dropped due to growing concerns about its outlook for 2020. DuPont reported that it anticipated adjusted earnings between $3.70 and $3.90 per share on revenue upward of $22 billion, lower than analysts’ expectations of $4.12 a share on revenue of $21.98 billion.
Breen, who once led the security conglomerate Tyco International for a decade, began his tenure at DuPont as a board member. In 2015, he was appointed CEO after the retirement of Ellen Kullman following a proxy war over the company.
Upon his succession, Breen almost immediately began merger negotiations with Dow, another huge chemical manufacturer. The merger was announced in December 2015 and closed in August 2017, creating the world’s largest chemical maker in terms of annual sales. Breen served as DowDuPont’s CEO for its duration.
Less than 18 months later, however, the mega-company would be split up into three spinoff companies – DuPont, Corteva and Dow – after it struggled to produce annual growth for its shareholders. Breen stepped down from his role as CEO after the split was finalized in June 2019, and Doyle was tapped to take over DuPont.
The short-lived conglomerate would be a lasting part of Breen’s legacy at the company, which is still amid a spate of deals that sell off products or merge divisions with other companies. Breen hasn’t far removed from those decisions as executive chairman. He helped orchestrate DuPont’s $26 billion December deal that will merge its Nutrition & Biosciences Division with International Flavors & Fragrance (IFF).
Koch, 45, has served as the company’s vice president of investor relations since June 2019. She previously served as the director of investor relations of DuPont’s predecessor, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, as well as in varied finance positions of its subsidiaries dating back to 2008. from July 2016 to May 2019; Global Finance Director of EID’s Performance Materials business from November 2015 to July 2016; and the Global Finance Manager for various EID businesses from April 2008 to July 2016. Koch also serves on the board of Aceto Corp.
DuPont also announced Tuesday that Nick Fanandakis, its former chief financial officer, would serve as a senior adviser to Breen, assisting in the restructuring effort.
“His deep knowledge of the DuPont businesses and his proven ability to create shareholder value will ensure the company is better positioned to drive sustainable growth and profitability over the long term,” the company said.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
By Jacob Owens