Brice de La Morandiere, nominated as Sperian CEO

Sperian Names New CEO

Sperian Protection Group reported 2008 sales of 750.9 million euros (about $930 million in U.S. dollars) this week and said it would not provide guidance for 2009 "because of the uncertain outlook." The company posted 2008 net income of 48.0 million euros and 3.3 percent growth in sales at constant exchange rates. But Sperian, like other major PPE manufacturers, reported a sharp decline in sales at the end of 2008 and began cutting costs. The actions taken in late 2008 and this year will produce savings excluding inflation of about 23 million euros on a full-year basis.

(MSA President/CEO William Lambert on Feb. 26 announced his company set records for full-year and fourth-quarter sales in 2008, with the latter reaching $1.13 billion. Yet Lambert said the company has intensified its efforts to cut costs and has reduced staff.  Grainger said its daily sales in January 2009 were down 9 percent from the previous January and 300-400 jobs across the company are being eliminating, travel and relocation expenses are being reduced, all merit increases have been eliminated, and management incentive bonuses won't be paid unless aggressive 2009 sales targets are met. DuPont cut its full-year 2009 earnings outlook to a range of $2 to $2.50 per share from the previous $2.25 to $2.75.)

Sperian said it is eliminating 760 jobs from its workforce of about 6,000 and will propose a dividend of 1.20 euros per share (compared with 1.50 euros per share in 2008) at its May 6 shareholder meeting. Its board agreed March 3 to make Brice de La Morandiere CEO as of April 14. Sperian's board chairman and CEO duties are currently held by Henri-Dominque Petit, but Sperian announced in August 2008 that it was preparing a succession plan. Petit will continue as chairman; de La Morandiere has been the group's chief operating officer since August 2008. Previously, he was senior VP of the body protection unit and CFO since the Christian Dalloz and Bacou groups merged in 2001.

"I am delighted with my new position and with the opportunity to work together with the members of the board of directors," he said. "I would like to thank the board of directors and Henri-Dominique for the confidence they have shown in me. In recent months, I have had the privilege to work with all Sperian teams, and I know that I can count on their support in implementing our adaptation and differentiation plans, which will enable the group to pull through the crisis in a strong position and pursue our strategy of being the world's reference leader."

Petit said de La Morandiere "has demonstrated great leadership skills and high operational and financial expertise. As a result, Sperian Protection is in good hands to weather the current crisis and to prepare for future growth."

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