Chris Pappas will retire as president and CEO of Nova Chemicals Corp. on Dec. 31 less than a year after assuming the top spot at the Pittsburgh-based maker of plastics and chemicals.
Pappas, 54, has been with Nova since 2000. He added the CEO title when Jeff Lipton retired May 1. Prior to joining Nova, Pappas had been with Dow Chemical Co. for 18 years.
In a statement, Pappas said his decision to retire was a personal decision.
The timing was right for me, he said. I'm looking forward to future challenges and opportunities.
The Sept. 14 announcement of Pappas' retirement comes only five months after Nova was acquired for almost $500 million by International Petroleum Investment Corp., a petrochemicals firm based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. At the time, IPIC officials said they weren't planning any major changes to Nova's management team.
In the news release, officials said a new Nova CEO will be named in the coming months. Officials were unavailable for further comment.
One industry veteran said Pappas' pending departure might be a sign of a larger management shake-up involving Borealis AG, a European polyolefins maker that also has capacity in the Middle East through its Borouge joint venture. IPIC owns 64 percent of Borealis, and many in the industry have speculated that IPIC will move to create a combined Boralis/Nova entity.
In recent years, Nova's faltering styrenics business prevented the firm's olefins and polyolefins unit from capitalizing on access to low-priced Canadian natural gas feedstock. The sinking economy of 2008 then hit Nova hard, leading to a loss of $214 million in the year's final quarter.
On Wall Street, Nova's fall was even more extreme. Its per-share stock price was above $40 in mid-2007, but had fallen under $10 by November 2008 and bottomed out at $1.10 in early February. IPIC's acquisition price worked out to about $6 per share much higher than the $1.34 Nova was selling for at the time, but a far cry from where it stood less than two years earlier.
Todd Karan, a 24-year Nova veteran, will take over as the firm's chief financial officer on Jan. 1. Karan currently is Nova's treasurer and vice president of corporate development.
Nova ranks as North America's third-largest producer of linear low density polyethylene. Its Ineos Nova joint venture ranks as the region's largest polystyrene maker.
Nova employs 3,300 and reported annual sales of almost $7.4 billion in 2008.
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