Honeywell International Inc. promoted one of its executives to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer, establishing a front-runner to succeed Chief Executive Dave Cote, who has run the conglomerate since 2002.
Mr. Cote, who turns 64 years old in July, could retire as CEO as soon as next year when his current contract expires, according to a person familiar with the matter, though his plans could change.
The longtime Honeywell boss decided to promote one of his lieutenants to ensure a smooth succession process, this person said, after Honeywell failed to strike a deal to acquire rival United Technologies Inc. that would have required Mr. Cote to stay on longer.
“David Cote is fully engaged as CEO, as he has always been,” a Honeywell spokesman said. “This action will broaden the leadership team and leverage the company’s deep bench, not diminish Dave Cote’s engagement or commitment. Honeywell does not have a mandatory retirement age for the CEO.”
On Monday, the company promoted Darius Adamczyk, 50, to the role of president and chief operating officer. He joined the company eight years ago and has been leading the performance materials business since 2014. A native of Poland and an engineer, Mr. Adamczyk earned an M.B.A. from Harvard. He previously held executive roles at Ingersoll-Rand PLC and Metrologic Instruments Inc., a company Honeywell acquired.
In the new role, Mr. Adamczyk will oversee Honeywell’s wide array of business units, which make products ranging from fire alarms and thermostats to automotive turbochargers and rubber boots for firefighters. Mr. Adamczyk will report directly to Mr. Cote, the company said.
Mr. Adamczyk’s promotion was a surprise to some followers of the company and is a signal that Honeywell is beginning to plan for life after Mr. Cote, an outsized personality who has overseen the growth of a company once dubbed “Honey Hell” into a well-respected midsize industrial conglomerate with ambitious aims on future growth.
“The wait looks like it is over,” Bernstein Research analyst Steven Winoker wrote in a note to clients. The firm has handled questions for years about likely successors to Mr. Cote, he said.
“We’ve had no concerns over how the succession might play out—and today’s announcement makes us all the more positive,” Mr. Winoker said. “In Mr. Adamczyk, Honeywell is looking at an accomplished, stable leader with a track record of success across a wide range of businesses.”
Honeywell has prided itself under Mr. Cote on a record of disciplined, well-executed midsize deals, building out product lines in areas like personal protective equipment and mobile scanners without overpaying for targets. Shares have risen 164% in the past decade, compared with a 59% gain in the S&P 500 index. The stock slipped 74 cents to $112.49 in Monday afternoon trading.
This year, Mr. Cote swung for the fences, attempting a $90 billion takeover of rival United Technologies that would have created an aerospace giant. But the offer was rebuffed, and United Technologies executives publicly attacked the deal as an impossibility because of likely objections by regulators and big aerospace customers.
The Honeywell spokesman said the leadership changes announced Monday were unrelated to the United Technologies proposal, and would have happened even if the transaction were moving forward. Honeywell on Monday promoted Rajeev Gautam to replace Mr. Adamczyk to run the performance materials unit.
By Ted Mann
Source: Wall Street Journal
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