Thursday, 19 September 2019 04:52 GMT

AkzoNobel seeks to keep shareholders sweet after profit warning

(MENAFN - AFP) Dutch chemical giant AkzoNobel sought Friday to soothe shareholders' nerves after a profit warning and a management shake-up including the departure of its finance chief.

The announcements came as shareholders held an extraordinary meeting in Amsterdam to discuss AkzoNobel's next steps after its board rejected three multi-billion-euro takeover offers from main US rival PPG earlier this year, sparking a bitter legal tussle.

"We are here to have a dialogue with shareholders. Some agree and some disagree with the things we do," AkzoNobel's chairman Antony Burgmans told the meeting at an upmarket hotel.

But Burgmans declined to comment when asked what AkzoNobel's reaction would be if PPG returned with yet another offer, or to give further details about changes to AkzoNobel's top management which also saw chief executive Ton Buchner's departure.

Thierry Vanlancker has been appointed to take over as CEO from Buchner, who announced in July he would be stepping down for "health reasons". And shareholders on Friday approved Vanlancker as a member of the board.

AkzoNobel, the world's largest paintmaker, announced earlier Friday it would not achieve a 100 million euro ($120.5 million) operating profit in 2017 as predicted in its first quarter results in April.

It blamed the shortfall on unfavourable currency rates and adverse market conditions, particularly in the marine and protective coatings sector.

It further announced unexpectedly that chief financial officer Maelys Castella was stepping down also "due to health reasons" and would be replaced by an interim financial chief until a full-time replacement can be found.

Although AkzoNobel said Castella's departure was coincidental, analysts pointed out that the timing was "surely inconvenient".

"Obviously shareholders are concerned about these latest developments," one person told the meeting.

Shareholders met Buchner and his team to learn about the road forward after AkzoNobel fought off a planned takeover by PPG which would have valued the Dutch company at 26.9 billion euros ($32.4 billion).

AkzoNobel in mid-August announced it had buried the hatched with activist investor group Elliott which was in favour of the tie-up with PPG to create a global mega paintmaker.

Elliott, which holds a 9.5 percent stake in AkzoNobel, has been angered by the Dutch group's rejection of the three takeover offers from PPG, accusing it of "losing the trust of shareholders" and creating "a crisis of confidence" in the company's management.

US-based Elliott instituted a number of legal cases against AkzoNobel to try to force its hand by calling an extraordinary shareholders meeting to oust Burgmans.

Their attempts have so far been foiled by Dutch courts.

AkzoNobel and Elliot however called a truce in August saying they would suspend all litigation for at least three months.


AkzoNobel seeks to keep shareholders sweet after profit warning

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