Wheeler Dealer...MetLife rolls out M&A
By Russ Banham
During the worst of the recession, while the CFOs of many other financial services companies were biting their nails, Bill Wheeler was quietly plotting. The CFO and executive vice president of MetLife was negotiating to acquire Alico, the international life insurance unit of embattled American International Group, in a $15.5 billion transaction that would be the largest in MetLife's history.
Gutsy Rescuer...Freeport looks forward
By Richard Gamble
When the economic cataclysm hit in the late summer of 2008, many finance teams rushed to cushion the fall. At Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Kathleen Quirk and her team rushed to prepare for the bounce. Working with operations and senior management, the finance team preserved liquidity by shutting down production selectively, delaying some capital expenditures and stopping optional cash outflows like the common stock dividend, but the strategy was always to protect future growth, not sacrifice it for stronger fortification.
Detail Detector...Eastman stays steady
By Richard Gamble
When a corporation sells a money-losing business amid a stubborn worldwide recession for twice what Wall Street experts thought it would go for, something is up. And something is definitely up at Eastman Chemical Co., which had $5 billion in 2009 sales. In October, Eastman announced a deal to sell its PET (polyethylene terephthalate) business for $600 million. Wall Street doubted Eastman could get more than $300 million for the business, which had been losing money for several years, says Frank Mitsch, a senior equity research analyst who follows the chemicals industry for BB&T Capital Markets. "They put $7 a share on the balance sheet by shedding a money-losing line of business," Mitsch says. "It was a very positive deal, done by auction."