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CFO Closes in on Owens Corning’s Corner Office

With his successor ready to take over as CFO next month, current finance chief and chairman Michael Thaman will soon be the company's top executive.
Sarah JohnsonAugust 21, 2007

The fall will be a time of transition for executives at Owens Corning, whose CFO is poised to take over as chief executive by year’s end. The building-material maker’s announcement on Tuesday that it’s named a permanent finance chief puts Michael Thaman, the company’s current CFO as well as its chairman, that much closer to squaring away his current duties to transition into the CEO position.

For Thaman, 43, who will become CEO when David Brown retires, transitions are nothing new. During his 15-year tenure at the Toledo, Ohio-based company, six of them were spent under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In October, the company will mark its first year of emergence since filing for bankruptcy in 2000.

But for now, Thaman will be helping Duncan Palmer, 41, a former Royal Dutch Shell executive, get up to speed for his job as the next Owens Corning CFO, starting in mid-September. A company spokesman said neither Palmer or Thaman were available for comment on Tuesday.

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In a press release, however, Thaman called his successor an “extraordinary” executive with international business experience. His 20 years of work at Shell “demonstrate his ability to help grow businesses through acquisition and globalization, and he has extensive experience in global financial management, reporting, and governance,” Thaman said.

At Shell, Palmer’s most recent title was vice president of upstream commercial finance for Shell International Exploration and Production BV. He provided finance support for major oil and gas business development and portfolio activity in that business, Owens Corning said.

Palmer also was vice president of finance for the Shell Lubricants business, where he led the integration of financial systems of acquired businesses. Owens Corning will pay him a base salary of $500,000 in addition to incentive bonuses and a one-time equity grant valued at $1.75 million.

Owens Corning had been looking for Thaman’s permanent replacement since announcing Brown’s departure in April. When Brown retires by the end of the year — the company has not specified a date — Thaman will become the 69-year-old company’s seventh CEO.

Before joining the Owens Corning 15 years ago, Thaman spent six years as a consultant at Mercer Management Consulting. At Owens, he led the company’s exterior systems business and its engineered pipe systems business while living in Belgium. He became CFO in 2000 and was named chairman of the board five years ago.