The pending combination of Hexcel Corp. and Ciba-Geigy Ltd.'s composites division will bring together businesses that are similar but differ significantly in managerial, cultural and business styles. As announced in July, Hexcel's John J. Lee, 58, will be chairman and chief executive officer, and Ciba's Juergen Habermeier, 54, will be president and chief operating officer.
Their personality types and styles contrast and might be considered diametrical opposites.
In his youth, Lee achieved All-American basketball honors at Erasmus Hall High School, Brooklyn, N.Y., and set records as a high-scoring forward for the Yale University Bulldogs. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from Yale and is an active Yale trustee.
Early in his career, Lee managed chemical operations, but he moved into corporate development consulting and investment banking and now epito-mizes the Eastern establishment money manager. He is known as a low-key, highly effective deal maker with a concentration in the energy and natural resources field.
Lee took Hexcel through a major financial and operational restructuring, although he was tackling a new industry. Non-strategic assets were sold, and core operations were refocused. To execute the reorganization, Hexcel voluntarily entered protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in December 1993, emerging in February 1995 with $50 million in new equity financing.
Lee sensed a need to make Hexcel a larger player in structural materials and created the July 12 deal now being completed.
Habermeier takes a German technologist's approach. He began his Ciba-Geigy career in 1967 in research and has been president of the composites division since 1989.
Habermeier received a natural sciences degree in chemistry from Technical University in Stuttgart, Germany, and a doctorate in polymer sciences from the University of Stuttgart. He is a director of RHR International, Wood Dale, Ill., and plays a serious brand of tennis.
Lee and Habermeier will perform their roles in different locations. Lee will stay in Stamford, Conn., while Habermeier, already spending most of his time at Hexcel offices in Pleasanton, Calif., will travel extensively in guiding day-to-day operations. Habermeier has operated Ciba composites from a facility in Anaheim, Calif.
Hexcel shareholders will vote on the combination and elect directors, probably in late January. A record date of Dec. 27 was set for determining eligible shareholders. Hexcel shareholders met last in May 1993.
The combination will have more than $600 million in worldwide sales of advanced structural materials and products.