Visteon CEO Leuliette to leave by year-end
Auto supplier Visteon Corp. said today that CEO Tim Leuliette will step down as head of the company by the end of this year as soon as a successor is named.
The company said its board of directors has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to evaluate candidates to succeed Leuliette.
Visteon, the onetime parts unit of Ford Motor Co., specializes in climate control, electronics and interior components.
Leuliette has been with Visteon since 2010, and has been the company’s president and CEO since October 2012, two months after he was appointed to the position on an interim basis. He succeeded Don Stebbins, who left following a disagreement with board members over the company’s strategic direction.
He has a reputation of being one of the industry's most colorful and outspoken executives. Two years before the 2009 bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors, for example, he said the Detroit region and its auto industry had become a "giant disaster."
Until 2010, Leuliette was president and CEO of supplier Dura Automotive, leading the company to a recapitalization and sale after its emergence from restructuring.
Prior to that, he was co-chairman and co-CEO of Asahi Tec Corp, a publicly traded Japanese manufacturer of auto parts after it acquired Metaldyne Corp, which Leuliette co-founded. He was also president and COO of Penske Corp.
Last summer, Visteon extended Leuliette's employment contract by two years; it had been due to expire at the end of 2015.
Spokesman Jim Fisher said the extension was agreed before the company's pending sale of its 70 percent stake in Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp., and the board and the executive felt the time was right for a new leader.
"The board is extremely pleased with the job Tim and his team have done during the restructuring," Fisher said.
In addition to the pending HVCC sale, during Leuliette's tenure, Visteon acquired the electronics business of Johnson Controls Inc. and Cooper Standard's thermal and emissions product line, while selling the interiors business of Visteon's Yangfeng joint venture, its lighting division and a significant portion of its global interiors business.
Whoever succeeds Leuliette will inherit a company that is tightly focused on instrument clusters, headup displays, audio, infotainment and console displays.
The company also is marketing its expertise in the software needed to make these displays work. In a Jan. 7 interview with Automotive News, Leuliette said half of Visteon’s engineers are software developers.
“Culturally, we're a different company,” Leuliette said at the time. “One analyst told us he didn't want us at their industrial conference, but at their technology conference.”
In the company statement, Leuliette said: "It is now time for a different leader with different skills to transform Visteon into an even more powerful electronics business."
David Sedgwick, Reuters and Automotive News contributed to this report.
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