The president of jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney has been elected president and chief operating officer of United Technologies Corp., moving him closer to UTC's top job, the industrial conglomerate announced Wednesday evening.
Louis Chenevert, 48, will join George David, chief executive officer of United Technologies, in the new office of the chief executive. Chenevert's election by the board of directors, announced Wednesday, is effective immediately.
David, 63, said he expects to remain as chief executive for two years. In a conference call with analysts Thursday morning, David said Chenevert's election fulfills the company's promises for an orderly transition. David acknowledged the decision came sooner than expected, but noted that he benefited from a similar transition period before he became chief executive.
David credited Chenevert with transforming Pratt & Whitney, which had technical problems and concerns with customer satisfaction about five years ago. He called Chenevert his "probable successor."
"I think Louis is a tremendous candidate," David said. "He's had a great run for the last seven years as the president of Pratt & Whitney."
Chenevert said he is proud of the recognition.
"I have come to know UTC well through Pratt & Whitney and by working with the other UTC presidents through the presidents council and with other important constituencies like investors, the board of directors and UTC's corporate staff," he said.
Steve Finger, 57, president of Sikorsky Aircraft, another UTC division, will succeed Chenevert at Pratt & Whitney.
Jeff Pino, 51, Sikorsky's senior vice president for strategy, marketing and commercial programs, will succeed Finger.
Chenevert joined UTC's Pratt & Whitney Canada unit in 1993 as vice president of operations. He moved to Pratt & Whitney's headquarters in East Hartford in 1996 as executive vice president of operations.
David said last fall that he wanted to appoint a potential successor, likely an insider, to president and chief operating officer in the following year or 18 months. David held those two posts on his way to the top job.
David has served as chief executive since 1994 and as chairman since 1997.
Besides Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky, other subsidiaries of United Technologies include Hamilton Sundstrand, a NASA contractor; Otis elevator; Carrier, a manufacturer of heating and ventilating equipment; and Chubb, a fire safety and security services division of UTC.
United Technologies reported earnings of about $3 billion in 2005 on revenue of $42.7 billion.
In his conference call, David also reaffirmed UTC's profit projection this year of $3.53 per share. He acknowledged some challenges, including a strike at Sikorsky.
In response to a question from an analyst, he said the company would not avoid making acquisitions during the transition period.
"Deals happen when deals can happen," David said.
UTC shares fell 44 cents, to close at $57.40 a share Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.
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