The Dubliner will take over in March
Dubliner Liam Condon is poised to take over as chief executive of troubled British FTSE-100 chemical maker Johnson Matthey.
Shares in the company slumped as much as 19pc yesterday after it said it’s ditching a strategy to become a major supplier of battery technology for electric vehicles and issued a profit warning.
The company said its current CEO, Robert MacLeod, is retiring after almost eight years in the role. Mr Condon, who’s the head of Bayer’s crop science unit, will take over in March.
A graduate of Dublin City University, where he studied international marketing and languages, Mr Condon joined Schering after graduating, working in Japan, Europe and China. He later headed a Schering business unit in Japan and then went on to hold senior roles with the group in Germany and China.
Schering was acquired by Bayer in 2006, when Mr Condon was appointed managing director of Bayer Healthcare and general manager of Bayer Pharma in China. He was later named head of Bayer Healthcare in Germany. He was also subsequently appointed to Bayer’s board of management.
Bayer announced earlier this week that Mr Condon would leave the group at the end of the year. The crop science unit he leads has underperformed in recent years, as it grappled with huge litigation costs connected to a Monsanto herbicide.
Mr Condon described Johnson Matthey – established more than 200 years ago – as an “incredibly innovative company”.
“Living within our planetary boundaries requires an acceleration of decarbonisation and Johnson Matthey has the technology and people to be at the forefront of this massive societal transition,” he said.
The UK group, which has a market capitalisation of £4.3bn (€5bn), generated revenues of £15.6bn in the financial year to the end of last March, and an operating profit of £323m. Revenue was 8pc higher than the previous year, but the operating profit figure was 17pc lower. That decline was driven by higher administrative expenses as well as major impairment and restructuring charges.
The group is a leading provider of catalyst and process technology to the chemical sector. About half its revenue are derived from catalytic converters that are used on vehicles fuelled by diesel and petrol. That market will decline amid the push to remove such vehicles from the roads.
Johnson Matthey said on Thursday that it had been working to commercialise its range of high nickel cathode materials for the automotive industry.
“Following a detailed review and ahead of reaching a number of critical investment milestones, we have concluded that the potential returns from our battery materials business will not be adequate to justify further investment,” it added.
“Whilst demand for battery materials is accelerating, so is competition from alternative technologies and other manufacturers,” noted the group. “Consequently this is rapidly turning into a high volume, commoditised market.”
Mr Condon will be paid a basic annual salary of £950,000 and could earn as much as £5.1m a year when various awards schemes are included.