Axalta Coating Systems has appointed Chris Villavarayan as Chief Executive Officer and President, as well as a member of the company’s Board of Directors, effective 1 January 2023. Rakesh Sachdev, who served as interim CEO and President, will succeed Bill Cook as non-executive Board Chair. Cook will continue to serve as an independent director and become Chair of the Board’s Compensation Committee while continuing to serve on the Audit Committee.
According to Axalta, Villavarayan is a proven global executive with more than two decades of diverse operational and management experience in industrial sectors. Most recently, he served as CEO and President of Meritor, positioning the company as a global industry leader of commercial vehicle drivetrains. He engineered systems with OEM and aftermarket customers, including pioneering Meritor’s expansion into electric powertrains. Villavarayan has a record of driving growth, expanding margins, and managing complex global operations resulting in significant shareholder value creation.
“On behalf of the entire Axalta board and management team, I am delighted to welcome Chris as our company’s next CEO, and I want to thank Rakesh for his leadership during the transition period,” said Cook. “Chris’s appointment follows a comprehensive search process to identify a strong leader for the company, and he joins Axalta with the full support of our board.
“Chris is a seasoned executive who will bring to Axalta his global operating experience, deep expertise in product development and manufacturing, and a proven record of driving outstanding business results. Over the course of his career, Chris has distinguished himself by defining and executing innovative and forward-looking growth strategies. We are confident that he will be an outstanding CEO with the skillsets necessary to achieve our strategic objectives and accelerate shareholder value.”
Villavarayan said he was excited to join Axalta, a company with a “proud 150-year history that I have long admired”.
“I am eager to leverage my experience to build on the team’s work to position the business for accelerated growth and market leadership. I look forward to working alongside the board, Axalta’s management, and the global team to lead the company toward realising its strategic value to benefit all our stakeholders,” he added.
According to Sachdev, Axalta has every confidence that under Villavarayan’s leadership, the company will be “better positioned than ever” to successfully execute its strategic imperatives to drive profitable growth. “I want to thank Bill for his exceptional service as Board Chair, and I am honoured to step into the role at the start of the new year. I look forward to working closely with Chris and the board to generate meaningful value for shareholders,” he added.