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Dow's New CEO Andrew Liveris Eyes Global Sales Growth, Product Innovation

Research May Lead to New Strategies Like Nanotechnology, a Focus at CMU

August 21, 2004       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Andrew N. Liveris is an Australian who will take over as chief executive officer and retain his post as president of The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, in November.

      Andrew N. Liveris takes office Nov. 1 as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of The Dow Chemical Company with hopes that rising energy prices don't derail the global economic recovery that began a year ago.

    The 50-year-old chief executive will charge into his new job with a head start: Dow set sales records and recorded high earnings in the second quarter of 2004. Net income rose 74 percent to $685 million over the same period a year ago and sales of $9.8 billion set a new quarterly record despite price increases of 8 percent. (Dow stock closed Friday on the New York Stock Exchange at $40.91 and recently has been upgraded by Smith Barney.)

      Mr. Liveris, a chemical engineer originally from Australia, will emphasize the growing markets of China and the rest of Asia. China is now Dow's third largest customer, with $1.6 billion in sales, after the United States and Germany. Total sales are about $33 billion a year.

      Reductions in the number of jobs will continue to impact Midland, Bay City and the Saginaw Valley, although cuts are not expected to reach the 2003 level of 3,500. Dow's global workforce numbers 46,000.

      Dow's turnaround from significant losses in 2002 is expected to be marked by continued extension of commodity chemical manufacturing to the Far East and western Canada, where costs are lower, as well as use of lower cost feedstocks.

      Among new global initiatives, Dow reportedly is involved in a joint venture for a $3.4 billion petrochemical complex in Kuwait, a joint venture for a $1 billion naphtha cracking plant in India, a $75 million epoxy resin plant in China, a joint venture for a $250 million ethyl benzene and styrene monomer plant in Brazil in a joint venturewith BASF South America, among other expansions.

      Although research and development expenditures are highly prioritized because of the need to control costs, Dow will continue to invest in R&D for growth as technology breakthroughs are considered crucial to keep the firm profitable.

      One area of future focus for Dow likely will be in nanotechnology, the use of materials at extremely small size. Nanotechnology materials are used in development of computer chips, mobile telephones and DVD players and may be used to deliver pharmaceuticals in the body. Several former Dow employees are involved in the Center for Applied Research and Technology at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant. This connection could provide a logical pathway for research, especially from a firm called Dendritic NanoTechnologies, Inc., founded by world-renowned scientist Donald Tomalia.

      Mr. Liveris was graduated from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, where he received theUniversity Gold Medal, the school's highest academic honor. He joined Dow in 1976 in Melbourne and worked in production, project engineering and marketing in Australia, Hong Kong and the U.S. As general manager for operations in Thailand in 1989, Mr. Liveris helped formed the Dow-Siam Cement joint venture.

      As president of Dow Chemical Pacific in 1995 he was among leaders planning a new entry strategy for business in China. He headed Performance Chemicals and helped form the Elemica e-commerce marketplace. He was elected president and chief operating officer (COO) of Dow in November, 2003.

      Mr. Liveris lives in Midland with his wife, Paula, and three children. He is a board member of the Dow Corning Corp., the Midland Center for the Arts, the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation and the advisory board of Comerica Bank.

      The new president's compensation has been reported by the company as about $2.5 million per year plus about $3.5 million in stock options.###

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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