Global plastics leader Dow Chemical Co. has made several management changes that will affect its plastics units.
Meantime, officials with Midland, Mich.-based Dow declined comment on speculation that the firm would merge some of its plastic and petrochemical assets with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. Rumors of a deal drove Dow's per-share stock price up almost 6 percent on March 15.
Longtime Dow executives Romeo Kreinberg and Michael Gambrell will serve on a newly formed Executive Leadership Committee, joining Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Geoffrey Merszei and Heinz Haller, senior vice president of strategic development and new ventures.
Kreinberg - a 30-year Dow veteran - is executive vice president of the firm's performance businesses, including performance plastics. Gambrell has been with Dow for 31 years and serves as executive vice president of its basic businesses, which include basic plastics.
The new committee will concentrate on defining Dow's direction, as well as focusing on the firm's investment agenda, financial plans and performance metrics, officials said in a March 13 news release.
``I am extremely excited by the structure and the teams we are setting in place today,'' Liveris said in the release. ``They will be the catalyst for tremendous change as we drive forward with the next phase of our strategic agenda.''
In other executive moves, Jim Fitterling has been named basic plastics group president. Pat Dawson will hold that same role in polyurethanes, while George Biltz will do the same in specialty plastics.
Fitterling, a 23-year Dow veteran, had been vice president of polyethylene in the company's basic plastics and chemicals portfolio. Dawson has been with Dow for 27 years and most recently served as vice president of polyurethanes.
The most recent stop on Biltz's 29-year Dow career was in the position of global vice president of purchasing, where he handled $16 billion in annual spending.
These appointments are part of a move to restructure Dow's global business portfolio into eight distinct groups, officials said.
The rumored Reliance deal was reported in two Indian newspapers - Economic Times and The Times of India - since late February. Reliance is a major Asian oil refiner and also ranks as one of the world's largest polypropylene makers, in addition to leading the Indian market in production of PE, PET and PVC.
Reliance has prospered as the Indian economy has boomed. In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2006, Reliance had sales of almost $20 billion and profit of more than $2 billion.
Dow ranks as one of the world's largest producers of polyethylene and polystyrene. The firm also does business in polypropylene and a variety of specialty resins. The firm actively has been shopping its PS and PP units in an attempt to exit lower-value products.
Dow spokesman Andrew Wood declined to comment, saying the firm does not address rumors.
In 2006, Dow posted annual sales of about $49 billion, with roughly half of that amount coming from plastics-related businesses. The firm employs 43,000 worldwide.
On Wall Street, Dow's per-share stock price began the year around $40, but was $45.10 in early trading March 16.