Management Turnover as Change Agent

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Metabolix Hires New CEO

Metabolix MBLX (NASDAQ) a biotechnology company that went public in 2006 is working to make biodegradable plastic products. On February 25, Metabolix announced it would replace its interim CEO, Jay Kouba, PhD a member of the board. Dr. Kouba took over as interim CEO after the long time CEO, James Barber (began in 2007), resigned from the firm back in May 2007. At the time of James Barber's resignation in May 2007, the company's stock first showed signs of improvement but over time dropped back down. A few months after Barber resigned, the company's CFO, Thomas Auchincloss Jr. Starting March 17, 2008, Richard P. Eno will replace Dr. Kouba as interim CEO, Kouba will remain the company's chairman. According to the company's February 25 press release,
Richard Eno has more than twenty five years of professional experience in the chemicals and energy business. He has held operating roles or led clients through challenges in nearly every aspect of these industries, including: corporate strategy development, technology management and commercialization; sales and marketing; organizational design and optimization; cost reduction and profitability improvement; and transaction support. Most recently, Mr. Eno served as Vice President, Leader Global Oil & Gas Sector at CRA International (formerly known as Charles River Associates), a leading provider of management consulting services and economic and financial expertise to global companies. At CRA International, Mr. Eno helped lead the substantial growth of CRA's Chemicals and Petroleum Practice over the last five years. Prior to joining CRA, he was at Arthur D. Little (ADL) from 1990 to 2002, and became a Vice President in its Chemicals Practice. He was elected to lead ADL's Chemical and Energy Vertical consulting activities, marketing and positioning it for its eventual sale to CRA International in 2002. Before ADL, he had seven years experience in a variety of roles in research, operations and project management for Chevron Corporation. Mr. Eno holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Houston and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Eno's chemical and financial related background appears to be a good fit for Metabolix specifically at this critical juncture in the firm's development. Metabolix calls its key product a Natural Plastic. Besides the development of Natural Plastics, Metabolix is also working on a process to use switchgrass to produce Natural Plastics and a biomass feedstock to be used to make ethanol. All the firm's products are considered "green" and could have long term financial potential if successful. For the moment, the company's main focus remains its joint venture with ADM on the development of Natural Plastics. ADM and Metabolix currently produce only a small amount of the Natural Plastics at a pilot plant. Both firms are in the process of building a full scale plant that is expected to begin production sometime in 2008.

Keep a close eye on what strategic and business moves Eno takes over the next number of months. Watch what happens when its plant goes into full production.

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