A generational changing of the guard is taking place at Huntsman Corp.
After 48 years as executive chairman of the Woodlands, Texas-based manufacturer of specialty chemicals, Jon Huntsman Sr. is relinquishing that position Dec. 31 and taking a seat on the company board as chairman emeritus.
His son Peter Huntsman will take full leadership of the company, which had $7 billion in revenue in 2016. Peter Huntsman will be board chairman, adding to the responsibilities he’s held since 1994 as president and chief executive.
“I am honored to be taking on this responsibility at a time when the company has never been stronger and had more opportunities before it,” said Peter Huntsman, 54. “This will be a smooth transition as our founder, my father, will continue in a valuable capacity as a board member, maintaining vital relations with customers, suppliers and policymakers, as well as sharing his 56 years of industry experience.”
Jon Huntsman Sr., who turned 80 in June, said it was “a high honor” to turn over the reins to his son, whom he called “one of the world’s outstanding CEOs.”
While being company chairman for nearly half a century was “both a great challenge and a special privilege,” the senior Huntsman said that “under Peter’s experienced oversight,” he foresees continued growth and strong financial controls at Huntsman Corp.
The market took the news in stride. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Huntsman Corp. shares rose 0.16 points Tuesday, or half a percentage point, to close at $32.82.
Originally founded in 1970 as Huntsman Container Corp., the company expanded significantly in 1994 with the acquisition of Texaco Chemical. Huntsman bought Texaco’s last petrochemicals plant five years later, when it also purchased the polyurethane, titanium dioxide, aromatic and petrochemical businesses of Imperial Chemical Industries.
After going public in 2005, Huntsman Corp. became the world’s largest pigments business in 2014, when it bought the performance additives and titanium dioxide divisions of Rockwood Holdings Inc. for about $1 billion.
The company now operates 75 manufacturing, research and development and operations facilities in more than 30 countries. It has about 10,000 employees in four business divisions.
Editor’s note • Paul Huntsman, a son of Jon Huntsman Sr. and brother of Peter Huntsman, is the publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.