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Carroll School of Management

Charles O Holliday, Jr.

chairman, president & ceo, e.i. du pont de nemours & co.


Charles O. Holliday, Jr., Chairman, President & CEO of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., addresses the Boston College Chief Executives' Club of Boston at the Wharf Room at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

DuPont CEO:  Company Isn't Interested In Major Merger

According to DuPont Co. (DD) Chief Executive Charles Holliday Jr., the chemical conglomerate does not see a major merger on the horizon, but rather more deals in the biotechnology arena.

"We've not been focused on bulking up at all.  We've been trying not necessarily to be bigger, but faster," said Holliday told reporters, following an address at the Boston College Chief Executives' Club on Wednesday.

Last fall, DuPont grabbed business headlines on speculation that rival Dow Chemical (DOW) was eyeing a merger, a move that would have united the nation's top two chemicals manufacturers.


The Honorable Thomas M. Menino (Mayor, City of Boston), Joseph Campanelli (President & CEO, Sovereign Bancorp, Inc.), Marijn Dekkers (President & CEO, Thermo Fisher Scientific), David Barrett (CEO, Lahey Clinic), Peter Lynch (Vice Chairman & Trustee, Fidelity Investments), Richard Egan (Ambassador, United States), R. Robert Popeo (Chairman, Mintz Levin), The Honorable Margaret H. Marshall (Chief Justice, MA Supreme Judicial Court), Charles Baker (President & CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), and William Swanson (Chairman & CEO, Raytheon Company) listen to Mr. Holliday's remarks.

In a speech made during the meeting, Holliday told executives that DuPont was now positioning itself to capitalize on what it sees as three major global trends:  the move from petroleum to bio-fuels; the need for better home and commercial security products; and the demand for increased food production through bioengineered seeds.

Holliday told reporters that any future deals would likely fall in those areas.

"In these last eight years, we've changed a lot," said Holliday, noting that DuPont has since sold off its oil unit, Conoco, and moved out of the synthetic fibers business.

"Oil was a great industry to be in, but we didn't think you could just dabble in it.  You had to either to  be in it or not.  We had to decide whether we were an oil company or a sciences company," Holliday said.


Members of the media crowd around Mr. Holliday following his remarks.

He said the company now considers itself a "high sciences" company, trending increasingly towards biology-based products.  Holliday added that about 25% of the company's revenues are now biology- rather than chemistry-driven.

Instead of a major merger, DuPont is more interested in either buying or cutting deals with small, niche biotech companies, Holliday said.

As an example, he pointed to the company's 2004 acquisition Verdia, which specializes in genetically modified plants, as the type of deal that DuPont would be interested in seeking.  Biotech companies engaged in creating enzymes were also of interested, he said.

"But our primary thrust is to grow from within," Holliday said.  "What we really want is to be so attractive to that professor in some place in the world we've never heard of that when he or she comes up with something, we want 'he or she' to think of DuPont and call us first."

Article by Val Brickates Kennedy
Dow Jones News Service
Wednesday, June 13, 2007