DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman Resigns

Just months after splitting off its Performance Chemicals business into a new company, Chemours, in part due to pressure from an activist investor, DuPont could be headed for a more wide-sweeping makeover.

On Oct. 5, the US chemical giant’s 59-year-old chief executive, Ellen Kullman, unexpectedly announced she would relinquish her position with effect from Oct. 16. Observers were divided on whether the step-down was voluntary or forced.

Kullman’s resignation was announced shortly after activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management revealed it had increased its share in DuPont.

In May, Kullman won a proxy fight with Peltz, who had sought four seats for Trian on the company’s board of directors in an effort to advance his cause of breaking it up into additional smaller entities.

Peltz has repeatedly criticized DuPont for missing earnings forecasts, undertaking poorly conceived acquisitions and divestitures and overpaying its executives.

In the five months since the battle temporarily ended, DuPont’s earnings figures have continued to deteriorate, and on Oct. 5, the day of Kullman’s resignation, the company announced it was cutting its earnings forecast for 2015 and would pursue further cost cuts.

Reports said Trian may have an ally in the new CEO, Edward Breen, who as CEO presided over the dismantling of another US conglomerate, Tyco International.

The severance package for Kullman, DuPont’s first female CEO, who took office in 2009, is said to be valued at around $48 million.

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