Dow’s Liveris Announces Retirement, Job Cuts

04.02.2016 -

In a call with analysts to discuss 2015 earnings, Andrew Liveris, president and CEO of Dow Chemical and designated executive chairman of the future DowDuPont, announced plans to retire by mid-2017, when the merger is complete.

The early retirement plans are said to have taken Wall Street by surprise.

During the call, the 61-year-old Australia native, whose career with the company has spanned 40 years, also unveiled 500 job cuts across the company in a cost-cutting move ahead of the $130 billion merger of the two US chemical giants.

Earlier, DuPont said it was targeting cost cuts of $730 million in 2016 against 2015 levels. The company also has said it will slash 10% of its workforce.

Dow and DuPont expect to complete their merger by the end of 2016 before subsequently splitting into three separate companies. DuPont chief Edward Breen is slated to become CEO. Chief operating officer, James (Jim) Fitterling, will be the new president.

While expressing his approval of the merger earlier, activist shareholder Daniel Loeb, head of New York-based hedge fund Third Point criticized the choice of the Dow chief for the top position. The fund, who has dogged Liveris since 2014, has a 2% stake in the Midland, Michigan-based company.

“We thank Mr. Liveris for his role in effectuating the Dow/DuPont merger and wish him success in his next chapter,” Loeb said in a statement, adding: “We look forward to engaging constructively with the new management teams at the combined Dow/DuPont’s post-merger spin-cos as they create significant value for shareholders.”

Liveris has also been criticized in other quarters, in particular over charges he spent Dow funds on non-business expenses, including family vacations.

In 2011, Dow said Liveris had reimbursed more than $719,000 in primarily non-business expenses, chalking up to internal processing errors the CEO’s failure to pay. The US Securities & Exchange Commission also investigated related allegations brought by a former company fraud investigator.