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3M names Thulin to replace retiring Buckley as CEO

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 8:05am
SAMANTHA BOMKAMP - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

The maker of Post-Its and Scotch Tape has named a new chief executive.

With his employment contract set to expire this month, 3M Co. announced Wednesday that CEO George Buckley will retire on June 1. The company named chief operating officer Inge Thulin to replace him. That move is effective Feb. 24. Thulin will also join 3M's board.

Wall Street has been waiting for the Maplewood, Minn., company to name a new CEO. As Buckley hit 3M's mandatory retirement age of 65, analysts clamored for information about a succession plan. Published reports suggested that some 3M board members wanted the popular CEO to stay on despite the company's age cap.

Buckley, too, did not seem eager to leave.

"Unless I drop dead first I'm going to work here as long as the board wants me to work here," he said. "I'm not anxious to go fishing just yet."

Buckley will remain chairman until the company's annual shareholder meeting in May, when the board plans to elect Thulin as chairman.

Thulin has been COO since May. Before that he was executive vice president of international operations. 3M gets about two-thirds of its revenue from products sold outside the U.S., and the company credits Thulin with building its international sales to nearly $20 billion annually.

Besides its trademark Post-Its and Scotch Tape, 3M also makes a slew of products ranging from stethoscopes to films for LCD televisions. During Buckley's tenure as CEO, 3M's sales grew by 40 percent to $29.61 billion in 2011.

Buckley, a plain-spoken Englishman, came to the company in 2005 from boat maker Brunswick Corp. At the time, some observers questioned the choice of an outsider from a much smaller company for 3M CEO, although Buckley had proven himself in the boat industry.

When he joined Brunswick in 2000, he dramatically expanded the 160-year-old company's market presence. He snatched up boat and engine brands including Lund, Sea Pro and some suppliers. He also moved to create a used-boat business.

Buckley was trained as an electrical engineer. He called 3M an "engineer's heaven" and an "ethical upstanding super-engineering machine." Under him, 3M made acquisitions that boosted its technology offerings. In August 2010, 3M paid nearly $1 billion for Cogent Inc., which develops systems for reading finger and palm prints, as well as iris and face-recognition systems. That month 3M also agreed to pay $230 million for an Israeli company that makes tracking devices.

3M shares rose 3 cents to $87.92 in midday trading.

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