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Arconic Replaces CEO Again, Extending Tumult Since Split From Alcoa

Feb. 6, 2019
The management overhaul comes about two weeks after Arconic backed out of late-stage talks to sell itself to Apollo Global Management.

Arconic Inc. named current Chairman John Plant to serve as chief executive officer, ousting Chip Blankenship just a little more than a year after he took the helm at the embattled manufacturer.

Plant, the company’s fourth CEO in less than two years, is expected to serve in the top post for a year, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Elmer Doty, a director, was named chief operating officer, while Arthur Collins Jr., also on the board, becomes lead director.

The management overhaul comes about two weeks after Arconic backed out of late-stage talks to sell itself to Apollo Global Management, an announcement that sent the shares tumbling the most in eight months. Arconic plans to provide an update on its strategy and portfolio review when it reports earnings on Feb. 8.

Arconic Has Had Four CEOs In Its Short Life

John Plant February 2019 – Present

Chip Blankenship January 2018 - February 2019

David Hess April 2017- January 2018

Klaus Kleinfeld November 2016 - April 2017

The move is another twist in the tumultuous two years since Arconic split from aluminum maker Alcoa. Arconic parted with its first CEO amid a proxy battle with Elliott Management Corp. and faced scrutiny for its connection to a deadly apartment fire in London.

The shares fell 2.7% to $18.31 at 9:32 a.m. in New York. Arconic had plunged 29% in the 12 months through Tuesday as the company grappled with poor performance and rising aluminum prices. A Standard & Poor’s index of industrial stocks fell 1.4 percent over the period.

Arconic tumbled late last month after rejecting a sale of the company, saying no offers served the best interest of shareholders. Apollo had been widely expected to forge a deal, after reports that it had topped bids from other private equity firms.

The collapse of the Apollo talks added pressure on Arconic to make internal improvements and move forward on a previously announced sale of its building-systems unit. Arconic is “focused on continuing to identify and implement operational improvements and other potential strategic initiatives,” Collins said in the statement.

Blankenship, a former General Electric Co. executive, had explored the sale and taken cost-cutting steps, such as planning to move the company’s headquarters out of New York.

Plant thanked his predecessor for “stabilizing and guiding the company over the past year and positioning the company for improved operations and significant value creation.” Plant, who has served on Arconic’s board since 2016, was CEO of car-parts supplier TRW Automotive from 2003 to 2015.

Klaus Kleinfeld, Arconic’s CEO when it split from Alcoa in late 2016, stepped down in April 2017 after the board said he displayed poor judgment in his interactions with activist shareholder Elliott. Arconic was led by interim chief David Hess until Blankenship was appointed.

Arconic on Wednesday reaffirmed its 2018 profit forecast.

By Richard Clough

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