A. Schulman Inc.’s chief executive officer may stay at the helm through 2016 while a newly promoted senior manager prepares as a short-list candidate for eventual CEO succession at the Fairlawn polymer company.
Chairman, President and CEO Joseph Gingo, 68, had his employment contract extended up to two years at the corporate board’s discretion “in the event of a transformational acquisition in the specialty chemical space such as the recently proposed Ferro acquisition,” the company announced Thursday. Gingo’s current employment contract ran through the end of 2014, according to the company’s last proxy statement.
Gingo was hired as CEO in 2008 after a 40-year career at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Schulman in early March announced it wanted to buy specialty chemical company Ferro Corp. for $855 million in a combination of stock, cash and debt assumption. Mayfield Heights-based Ferro has been opposed to Schulman’s opening offer, which amounts to $6.50 for each Ferro share. Acquiring Ferro would about double the size of $2.1 billion Schulman.
The Schulman board also named Bernard Rzepka, 52, as executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective immediately.
Rzepka joined Schulman in 2002 and has held various technology and executive positions, most recently vice president, general manager and chief operating officer of the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa division. The so-called EMEA division is Schulman’s largest.
Rzepka will report directly to Gingo, Schulman said. Rzepka’s responsibilities include global corporate strategy and growth plans, procurement and marketing. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, effective May 1, Rzepka’s base salary will be increased from $487,088 to $535,700. He also will get additional equity grants.
“Bernard’s experience makes him well-qualified to head Schulman’s global operations,” Gingo said in a statement. The EMEA division performed well under Rzepka despite difficult economic conditions, he said.
“He has an outstanding track record of accountability, transparency and leadership,” Gingo said. “His strategic insight and operational expertise will serve him well as he takes on additional responsibilities in executing A. Schulman’s strategies, which include increasing shareholder value by strengthening and expanding our business in key global markets.”
Gingo said he will be able to continue to “further A. Schulman’s core business while exploring avenues to become a premier specialty chemical organization” with Rzepka’s promotion.
As chief operating officer of the entire company, Rzepka will get serious consideration to become Schulman’s next chief executive officer, company spokeswoman Jennifer Beeman said.
“We can also look elsewhere, look outside [the company],” she said. “Certainly Bernard will be considered one of those candidates.”
Also Thursday, Schulman said that Heinrich Lingnau will succeed Rzepka as head of the EMEA division. Lingnau joined Schulman in 1999 and currently heads the company’s Masterbatch Solutions Business Unit.
Shares of Schulman rose 38 cents to $30.63. Shares are up 5.9 percent, including dividends, since Jan. 1 and are up 13.4 percent from a year ago.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com.