DowDuPont Inc. said Andrew Liveris will step down as chairman, ending a career that saw him rise through the ranks of Dow Chemical Co. to chief executive and orchestrate the world’s largest chemical industry merger with DuPont Inc.
The Australian-born 63-year-old will relinquish his role on April 1, to be replaced by current co-lead independent director Jeff Fettig, the Wilmington, Del.-based company said in a statement on Monday.
Liveris had considered leaving last year amid activist pressure as DowDuPont looked to reshape management while splitting into three independent companies. Fettig, in the statement, said he will work with the entire board to implement the intended separation.
After a 40-year career with Dow, Liveris said he decided to step down while spending Christmas with his family in native Australia. He judged the time was right with the stock price trading at all-time highs following the completion of the $78 billion merger and the start of the Saudi Arabia petrochemical complex Sadara, the WSJ reported earlier, citing an interview with Liveris.
“Now is the right time for me to effect my previously announced plan to transition and then to retire,” Liveris said in the statement.
Delays getting regulatory approvals for combining Dow with DuPont prompted board discussions on Liveris delaying his retirement last year. He then bumped his exit to July 1 of this year. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jonas Oxgaard said at the time that retaining Liveris may interfere with the leadership of DowDuPont CEO Ed Breen.
Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management and Dan Loeb’s Third Point both targeted Dow and DuPont, forcing the company to change its plan for splitting up. A Dow lifer, Liveris faced pressure to move on from Third Point, which didn’t want him involved in the merged company.
Liveris will continue as a director of DowDuPont through July 1, as planned.
By Andrew Noël