WILMINGTON – The Chemours Company announced Thursday morning that President and CEO Mark Vergnano will retire on July 1 and that current Chief Operating Officer Mark Newman will succeed him as the chemistry company’s leader.
Vergnano has led Chemours since the company spun out of the former DuPont company in 2015, creating a leading producer of advanced performance materials, particularly in titanium dioxide. He helped keep the company headquartered in Wilmington, despite having operations around the world, and directed investment in new research and development space at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. In his retirement, Vergnano will transition to non-executive chairman of the company’s Board of Directors through the end of 2021, replacing current board chair Richard Brown.
In a statement announcing the changes, Vergnano called his time at the helm of Chemours “an absolute honor and privilege.”
“I am immensely proud of what we have achieved in establishing and then transforming ourselves into the solid company we are today. As an innovator and an industry leader in a continuously changing world, there is so much more ahead for us to achieve. Building on our firm foundation, Chemours has a bright future with strong growth opportunities, and no one is better suited to lead us into this future than Mark Newman,” Vergnano added.
Newman takes the reins after serving for more than six years in the Chemours, starting as a senior vice president and chief financial officer who helped lead the launch of the standalone company. In 2019, he was appointed chief operating officer with responsibility over the company’s global commercial businesses.
In that role, he oversaw the recent division of the former fluoroproducts business into two reportable segments: Thermal & Specialized Solutions and Advanced Performance Materials. Throughout 2020, he also chaired the company’s Crisis Leadership Team which oversaw the company’s global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also the executive sponsor of the Chemours Diversity and Inclusion Council, the group charged with improving the company’s overall inclusion and diversity approach to talent acquisition and development, company culture, and community engagement.
Prior to joining Chemours, Newman was senior vice president and chief financial officer of SunCoke Energy, a company that makes solid fuel coke used in steel manufacturing. He also served in a number of senior operating and finance leadership roles in the United States and China, primarily with General Motors Corp., where he began his career in 1986.
“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to lead Chemours,” Newman said in a statement. “This is a tremendously strong company that is poised for continued growth. We have an unparalleled workforce of 6,500 people who are committed to responsibly meeting the demands of our changing world with our chemistry and products that enable modern life.”
Newman will take over a Chemours that is still trying to woo investors after its split from DuPont. The $6.1 billion company has seen its revenue decline over the past three years while its net profit has zigzagged from profit to loss to profit in the same timeframe. Its share value has fallen about 33% from its October 2017 high point.
Chemours has started 2021 on the right foot, however, beating analysts’ revenue expectations by nearly $36 million in the first quarter, led by its top-performing titanium technologies and advanced materials divisions. It also scored high-profile contracts for its Opteon refrigerant, including the San Jose Sharks hockey team, Chinese sports venues and HVAC leader Johnson Controls.
That progress led Bank of America analyst Matthew DeYoe to recommend investing in Chemours last month, writing, “We find ourselves at a point when [titanium dioxide] prices are inflecting and governments are taking an increased interest in phasing out legacy refrigerant technology, [which] should provide a backdrop for both cash flow and earnings growth to drive value in excess of what the underlying commodity cycles would dictate.”
Following the announcement of Newman’s impending promotion, shares of Chemours were trading slightly higher at midday. Its share value recently hit its 52-week high, signaling positive momentum.
In conjunction with the moving roles, Dawn Farrell, who has served on the Board of Directors since the company’s founding and is a member of the Audit Committee and Compensation Committee, will become the company’s lead independent director.