AP News

Ahead of the Bell: Sealed Air CEO to retire

ELMWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Analysts on Wednesday commended Sealed Air Corp.'s CEO succession plan after the food packaging company said a former Dow Chemical Co. executive would take over for its CEO William Hickey, who plans to retire.

The company said Jerome Peribere would become CEO in March 2013, when Hickey expects to step down. Sealed Air named Peribere as president and chief operating officer in the meantime.

Peribere, who will also serve as a board member, will be responsible for the company's operating businesses, supply chain network and new technology development. The 58-year-old will report to Hickey, who will become Sealed Air's chairman on Sept. 1. He will step down from that post in March 2013 but will remain as a director.

Sealed Air is struggling to deal with the weakening economy in Europe and slowing exports to China. Analysts said its $4.3 billion acquisition of cleaning and sanitation services company Diversey from October has not been as beneficial as expected. Earlier this month, the Elmwood, N.J., company cut its guidance for the year.

Peribere's appointment follows the naming of a new CFO in May.

Investors will likely see the management moves as positive given the company's recent difficulties, analysts said.

New leaders could have an easier time making changes that improve the company's performance, said Jefferies analyst Philip Ng. He added that Peribere has a good track record running a large Dow Chemical division, Dow Advanced Materials, with experience in Europe and Asia. But he said he would have preferred a CEO for Sealed Air that had served as head of a public company.

Baird's Ghansham Panjabi added that, in light of the difficulties with the Diversey unit, investors will probably like Peribere's experience integrating Rohm & Haas into Dow Chemical. Dow Chemical bought Rohm & Haas for $16 billion in 2009.

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