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Royal DSM announces CEO succession

Royal DSM announces the upcoming succession of CEO Feike Sijbesma, who will hand over his responsibilities to his managing board colleagues Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze as co-CEOs in February 2020.

The supervisory board of Royal DSM, a global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living, announces the upcoming succession of CEO Feike Sijbesma, who will hand over his responsibilities to his managing board colleagues Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze as co-CEOs in February 2020 and will support a smooth transition until May 2020.

Feike Sijbesma: transforming DSM for more than a decade

After 20 years on the managing board and almost 13 years as CEO, Sijbesma has decided to step down as CEO and hand over the company’s leadership, as he seeks to pursue other business and personal roles. Sijbesma will formally hand over his responsibilities as CEO on February 15, 2020, to his successors, and will remain employed by DSM securing a further smooth transition in the coming five months, until May 1, 2020. Sijbesma will announce his new engagements and roles later.

Under the leadership of Sijbesma, DSM has gone through a significant transformation, from a bulk chemicals company into one which focuses on nutrition, health and sustainable living, generating total shareholders return of about 400%. Over more than a decade DSM has significantly expanded its nutrition business, divested its non-core bulk chemical activities, and upgraded the materials portfolio. In addition to focusing on business performance and financial discipline, under Sijbesma’s leadership, DSM repositioned itself into the successful science-based company that it is today: purpose-led and performance-driven, putting innovation and sustainability at the heart of the company and its strategy. Today, DSM is a truly global company with a diverse and engaged employee and leadership base, creating value for all stakeholders.

Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze: continuing DSM’s journey

After a thorough process and external benchmarking, including the advice and input from an international search firm, the supervisory board has decided to appoint both Matchett and de Vreeze, the two managing board colleagues of Sijbesma, in a dual leadership as co-CEOs. Together they will maintain the focus on business performance, financial discipline, innovation, sustainability and people, as DSM continues its journey. This dual leadership structure is rooted in the long history of collaboration between them, which has been keenly observed by the supervisory board and is expected to create a strong basis for continued profitable growth. In conjunction with their co-CEO role, Matchett will retain her responsibilities as CFO and de Vreeze will hold the COO responsibilities.

As co-CEOs, Matchett will focus on financial management and capital markets communication, capital allocation, talent and culture development, as well as digital strategy and new ways of working. de Vreeze will focus on operational delivery, SHE, customer centricity, driving growth and efficiency as well as innovation and R&D programs. Jointly they will be accountable for the performance of the company and will drive the purpose led, performance driven strategy and M&A agenda.

Matchett and de Vreeze have demonstrated strong leadership while working with Sijbesma in shaping the company over the years. Their skill sets are highly complementary, and their combined leadership will enable them to leverage their respective strengths within DSM’s collaborative environment.

Matchett joined DSM as CFO and managing board member in 2014. de Vreeze joined DSM in 1990, has held multiple business roles and has been managing board member since 2013.

To facilitate a smooth transfer and continuity to the new co-CEO leadership structure, the supervisory board will ask the shareholders at the AGM in May 2020 to re-appoint Chairman Rob Routs for a final two-year term.

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