Hunt quits ArvinMeritor

One year into the marriage of Arvin Industries Inc. and Meritor Automotive Inc., No. 2 executive William Hunt has filed for divorce.

Hunt, 56, will leave his position as vice chairman and president of ArvinMeritor Inc. to start a venture capital company in Indianapolis, the auto supplier said Friday, Aug. 10.

As part of the July 2000 merger, Hunt received a cash payment of $7.7 million. His position at ArvinMeritor was central to the new company's effort to pitch the combination as a merger of equals.

Under the deal, Larry Yost, former CEO of Meritor, became CEO of ArvinMeritor. The plan called for Hunt, former CEO of Arvin, to succeed Yost when he retired in 2003.

But the merged company was hit almost immediately by slowdowns in both the light-vehicle and heavy-duty truck markets. Those hits took a toll on earnings. Net earnings declined 11 percent last year to $40 million, despite a 3 percent increase in revenue, to $7.7 billion.

'Bill was a real gentle giant,' said ArvinMeritor spokesman Sam Locricchio. 'Larry's very employee-focused. That's where they gel. Larry has a bit harder-edge style.'

Hunt is the second top executive to leave the company since July, when CFO Tom Madden resigned. Madden took a position with Ingram Micro Inc. in Santa Ana, Calif., a computer products distributor.

Yost will take over Hunt's duties that were focused on daily operations.

Hunt lives in Indiana, where Arvin had its headquarters. He will keep his office at ArvinMeritor's headquarters in Troy, Mich., for a few months and will continue to advise Yost.

ArvinMeritor supplies automakers, heavy-truck makers and the aftermarket with roof modules, wheels, sunroofs, motion-control systems, door panels, suspensions and exhaust systems.

The company ranks No. 9 on the Automotive News list of top 150 suppliers to North America.

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