3M’s Buckley to Stay as Long as the Board Allows

3M's CEO told Bloomberg that he intends to remain with the company as it executes a succession plan following the expiration of his contract. The company has declined to discuss the details of that succession plan.

Roughly two weeks after Bloomberg reported that 3M CEO George Buckley was looking for an early exit, the head of the Maplewood-based company now says he'll stay the course.

“I'm going to stay with the company as long as the board lets me,” Buckley told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Buckley's contract expires in February 2012, and the company is planning an orderly succession plan, he told Bloomberg.

Buckley also said that since joining 3M he has held a “self-imposed imperative to make sure that when I eventually retire from the company that the next person that was appointed would be an internal person.”

3M spokeswoman Jacqueline Berry said in a Thursday phone interview that the company has nothing to add to Buckley's statement to Bloomberg. She declined to provide details about the succession plan or possible CEO candidates.

In Bloomberg's initial report, it cited unnamed sources, who indicated that the following three people are being considered for the position: Inge Thulin, executive vice president of international operations; Bradley Sauer, executive vice president of health care; and Jean Lobey, executive vice president of the safety, security, and protection-services businesses.

Buckley's Wednesday statements reinforce those previously made by the company. Immediately following the original Bloomberg report about a potential early exit, 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming-Runyon told Twin Cities Business that the CEO has “no intention of leaving the company early.”

Buckley, who took the reins in 2005, has improved operational excellence by shortening supply chains, and strengthened the company through continued investment in research and development. He's also led a flurry of acquisitions: 3M has completed more than 65 deals across more than 20 divisions. The company most recently announced plans to buy engineered materials manufacturer Nida-Core Corporation.

Buckley is only the second CEO in 3M's 108-year history to be recruited from outside of the company. In 2008 and 2009, he cut several thousand jobs, suspended merit pay increases, froze hiring, and offered early retirement packages in order to steer the company as its revenue and earnings tumbled amid the recession.

3M is Minnesota's fifth-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $23.1 billion in 2009.