UPDATE 1-Nippon Sheet Glass taps former Dupont exec as CEO

* Craig Naylor, 61, to take president, CEO posts in June

* Naylor joins small group of non-Japanese CEO’s in Japan

* Nippon Sheet says choice underscores int’l make-up of firm

By Nathan Layne

TOKYO, April 15 (BestGrowthStock) – Nippon Sheet Glass Co (5202.T: )
named former DuPont (DD.N: ) executive Craig Naylor as its new
president and CEO on Thursday, making him the second non-Japanese
to head the Tokyo-based glass maker.

Nippon Sheet Glass had been searching for a new chief
executive to replace Stuart Chambers, a British national who
stepped down in October after a 15-month stint at the helm,
citing the desire to spend more time with his family.

The appointment of Chambers had thrust the otherwise
relatively obscure glass maker into the spotlight in a country
where foreign chief executives are rare, and underscored its goal
of becoming more international in its management.

Chambers was head of British glass maker Pilkington when
Nippon Sheet bought it in 2006 for about 2 billion pounds ($3.1
billion) — swallowing a company that was twice its size in sales
and stretching its balance sheet with debt.

The deal helped shift its focus outside Japan. Nippon Sheet,
whose rivals include Japan’s Asahi Glass (5201.T: ) and France’s
Saint-Gobain (SGOB.PA: ), now gets about three-quarters of its
revenues overseas and counts Europe as its largest market.

Naylor, a 61-year old U.S. citizen, was chosen after a global
search carried about by an external recruitment agency, itself
somewhat of a rarity in Japan.

“He has the breadth of international experience we need,”
Katsuji Fujimoto, who has been acting as interim CEO, told a news

Fujimoto, who will stay on as chairman, said Naylor was
chosen because of his extensive experience overseas as well as in
the areas of engineering, production management, product
development and marketing.

Company presidents in Japan are almost always tapped from
within the firm or seconded from a main bank.

Even Japan’s two most famous non-Japanese chief executives —
Nissan Motor Co’s (7201.T: ) Carlos Ghosn and Sony Corp’s (6758.T: )
Howard Stringer — were already part of their respective
companies when they assumed the top post.

Naylor joined DuPont in 1970 and steadily rose up the ranks
of the chemicals giant. His overseas postings have included
Switzerland, the United States, China and a stint in Japan from
1987 to 1991.

He most recently served as group vice president of U.S.-based
DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies from June 2004 to
December 2006, and was a non-executive director at Delphi Corp
when the U.S. auto parts maker was working through bankruptcy
from 2005 to 2009.

Nippon Sheet is forecasting a net loss of 45 billion yen for
the year that ended last month, hit by the sharp downturn in the
electronics, automotive and construction industries, the main
customers of its glass.

Naylor said his experience at Delphi had taught him the
importance of establishing a competitive cost structure. He said
he would focus on reducing the company’s debt before embarking on
another big acquisition.

Even after a concerted effort to cut its borrowings, gross
debt stood at 414 billion yen at the end of last year.

“I think we still have some work to do there to improve our
balance sheet, and I think after we do that we can look more
seriously at other M&A possibilities,” said Naylor, who will
become president and CEO on June 29.

Stock Market News

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

UPDATE 1-Nippon Sheet Glass taps former Dupont exec as CEO