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DuPont Said to Look Outside for Next CEO After Activist Pressure

DuPont Co. is looking at external candidates for its next chief executive officer. If it chooses an outsider, it’ll be the first time in 213 years the chemical maker will be led by someone who isn’t a Du Pont or have a long history at the company.

The break with tradition comes after Chairman and CEO Ellen Kullman unexpectedly announced her retirement this month, just as DuPont cut its earnings forecast and an activist investor signaled its battle to break up the company isn’t over.

The DuPont board is looking for an outsider who can implement changes, similar to what Ford Motor Co. did by bringing in Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally, said a person familiar with the Wilmington, Delaware-based company’s strategy. The directors are working with executive-recruitment company Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. to find a successor, said two other people familiar with the matter. All three people asked not to be identified because the recruitment process is confidential.

"A deeper restructuring isn’t easy for an internal guy to do," said Hassan Ahmed, an analyst at Alembic Global Advisors in New York. "Most of the internal guys are Ellen’s lieutenants."

Narrow Victory

On outside appointment may be welcomed by Trian Fund Management, the investment firm led by Nelson Peltz, which lost a proxy fight in May in a bid to break up the company and is DuPont’s fifth-largest shareholder. On Oct. 5, hours before Kullman said she was stepping down, Trian co-founder Ed Garden said the firm had increased its stake and that “the DuPont story is not over.” Trian declined to comment on DuPont’s recruitment of a new CEO.

DuPont’s victory over Trian in May was narrow and investors have grown...


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