Gibara Bows Out As Keegan Takes Over
Goodyear has announced that Samir Gibara (64) will resign as chairman at the end of June. The board has elected Robert J. Keegan (55) as his successor and, in addition, Keegan will continue to serve as Goodyear’s CEO and president.
Samir G. Gibara was born in Cairo in 1939 and gained a degree in business administration from Cairo university in 1960 and a master’s degree international business and finance from Harvard in 1964. This same year he joined Goodyear France as a management trainee and promotion quickly followed, with Gibara being named Comptroller of Goodyear France from 1967 to 1970.
He then spent two years as manager of Goodyear’s controlled distribution in Europe, followed by a time at Goodyear Morocco, initially as finance director and later as president and CEO.In 1976, Gibara embarked on a four-year term as president and CEO of Goodyear France and was then appointed vice president of Goodyear Europe in 1980. The following year he left the company, returning in 1983 as president of Goodyear France.
Gibara’s next posting came in 1989, when he moved to Toronto as president and CEO of Goodyear Canada. A year later, he was named vice president of Goodyear Europe and became a corporate officer of the company in October 1992, as vice president responsible for strategic planing and business development as well as acting vice president for finance. In 1994, he was appointed executive vice president with responsibility for North American tyre operations and was elected to the board of directors eleven months later.
At the start of 1996, Mr. Gibara was named president and chief executive officer and was made chairman of the board in July of that year; Goodyear’s first-ever chairman from outside the USA. He worked closely with Stan Gault, who was brought in in 1991 to turn round Goodyear’s ailing finances (in 1993, Gault admitted that interest on Goodyear’s crippling debt was costing the company around $1 million a day).
Gault was successful in his endeavours and Sam Gibara assumed power over a company that was in much better shape, allowing him to state the corporation’s goal of “holding the number one or number two position in each of the industries and each of the markets in which we participate.”Things were looking up and there was great euphoria in 1999 when Goodyear completed the de facto acquisition of the European and American activities of Sumitomo, bringing together two of the most famous names in the history of tyres, Goodyear and Dunlop. Undoubtedly this was the crowning moment in Sam Gibara’s career, as Goodyear reclaimed its position as the world’s number one tyre manufacturer.
Downhill all the waySince then, things have gone downhill somewhat and the Dunlop acquisition has proved to be more problematical than was first envisaged. The Goodyear Dunlop group found itself with surplus production capacity and staff, and has made numerous reductions, including 700 at Akron. These reductions are on-going, with another likely 200 job losses in the UK the latest announcement.
Goodyear is suffering in its home market and, when it did report its year-end figures for 2002, these revealed a net loss for the year of $1.11 billion. The trend continues, with a net loss for the first quarter of this year of $163.
3 million and Goodyear eliminating its quarterly dividend. The group is looking to dispose of “non-core” assets, actively trying to sell its chemicals business and its credit rating has been reduced to virtual junk bond status. Enter Robert J. Keegan. He is from outside the tyre industry, having been president of the Consumer Imaging business and an executive vice president of Eastman Kodak Co. before joining Goodyear in October 2000 as director, president and chief operating officer.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a master of business administration degree in finance. Keegan was taken on as the man to succeed Sam Gibara and he was elected as CEO at the beginning of this year, assuming management responsibility for the company. The announcement of his appointment as chairman completes what Goodyear describes as “the orderly leadership transition process”.
Said Sam Gibara: “Over the course of the past two years, Bob has quickly learned the industry and demonstrated his leadership abilities. He has effectively taken on the leadership role as CEO since January and has earned the confidence of the board, the company’s leadership, customers and associates.”For his part, Keegan acknowledges that this is a testing time for Goodyear but, as you would expect, his attitude is bullish as he said: “I welcome and appreciate the opportunity that the board has presented me in leading Goodyear at a very important time in its history.
Our challenges are clear and I have full confidence that we have the people, the products and the plan, along with the important momentum to meet those challenges.” He went on to pay tribute to his predecessor thus: “I want to thank Sam Gibara for his dedication to our company over his long career with Goodyear. For me personally, Sam has provided important and valued counsel as I have begun my career with the company.
“This is indeed an “important time” in Goodyear’s history and the challenges are both clear and daunting if the company is to be restored to financial health. Will Keegan be able to “do a Gault”, so to speak and turn things around? One thing’s for certain – the ball is well and truly in his court and it is with him that the buck now stops..