Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin quits a month after collapse of GE Deal

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2016

Keith McLoughlin is stepping down as chief executive of Electrolux AB, a month after a protracted $3.3 billion deal to acquire General Electric Co. ’s home-appliance business collapsed.

Taking his place beginning Feb. 1 will be Jonas Samuelson, currently head of Electrolux’s major appliances business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and previously the Swedish appliance maker’s chief financial officer.

Mr. McLoughlin said that because the fate of the GE deal had now been determined, though “not in the way we wanted,” it was time for him to step down. He served as chief executive of the company for five years.

“The company is in a strong position, with a strong internal successor and it is now the right time for me to return to my family in the U.S.,” said the U.S. national, speaking during a telephone news conference.

Electrolux Chairman Ronnie Leten said he is counting on Mr. Samuelson to continue the group’s expansion.

“We feel we have a clear strategy and we also have a structure,” Mr. Leten said. “It is all about execution.”

The management shuffle at the Swedish maker of kitchen appliances and washing machines follows GE’s decision to pull the plug on the agreed sale of its appliance business in December.

GE bowed to pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, which wanted to block the transaction on antitrust grounds.

Mr. McLoughlin had bet big on the GE acquisition, which would have been the largest ever for Electrolux and created a white-goods giant better placed to compete with Whirlpool Corp. of the U.S., as well as Asian competitors.

The deal was announced with much fanfare in September 2014, but faltered last summer as the Justice Department stepped in and filed a lawsuit against the proposal, arguing that it would hurt competition. As well as being a strategic blow for Electrolux, the decision left the Swedish company with a $175 million breakup fee to pay to GE.

Electrolux said that Mr. McLoughlin will continue to advise the company and its new chief executive as a consultant for the North American market.

Mr. Samuelson said his first task as CEO will be to find new executives for Electrolux’s major appliance businesses in the region—Mr. McLoughlin was responsible for Electrolux’s U.S. business—as well as his own successor to run the company’s activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The two units represent more than 60% of Electrolux’s net sales.

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