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Air Products names Rockwood's Ghasemi as next CEO

11:03 AM MDT | June 18, 2014 | Deepti Ramesh and Robert Westervelt

Ghasemi: Takes helm
at Air Products 1 July

Air Products has named Rockwood Holdings chairman and CEO Seifi Ghasemi as its next chairman and CEO, effective 1 July. He succeeds John McGlade, who will retire from Air Products on 30 June. Rockwood has named Robert Zatta as acting CEO effective 1 July in addition to his role as CFO.

Ghasemi was appointed to the Air Products board in September 2013 as part of an agreement with activist hedge fund Pershing Square, its largest shareholder, that required the company to appoint three new board members and start a search for a new CEO. McGlade was scheduled to step down as chairman by 30 June under that agreement.

Ghasemi, who was 69 when Rockwood filed its proxy in late March, has served as chairman and CEO of Rockwood since 2001. Ghasemi has signed a five-year employment agreement at Air Products that runs through 30 September 2019.

“Air Products is a unique, global business with leading market positions in key regions and a well-balanced geographic footprint,” Ghasemi says. “I am excited by the many significant growth opportunities that lie ahead, driven by energy, environmental, and emerging markets. The opportunity to advance this great company and improve returns is a tremendous privilege.”

Ghasemi will remain chairman of Rockwood until 1 January 2015 and continue thereafter as director, according to Rockwood. CFO Robert Zatta has been named acting CEO, although he will retain his current role. Thomas Riordan, senior v.p./law and administration and corporate secretary, has been named Rockwood executive v.p. and chief administrative officer as part of its succession plan. Steffen Haber, president at Rockwood Lithium; and Joris Merckx, president/surface treatment at Chemetall, will continue in their current roles and report to Zatta. Prior to joining Rockwood, Ghasemi was chairman and CEO of GKN Sinter Metals, and had senior leadership positions at gases maker BOC Group, which is now part of Linde. At BOC, Ghasemi served as president/gases, Americas and, from 1996–97, served as a member of the BOC Group board. 

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