Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Executive changes at Wabtec

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Albert J. Neupaver Albert J. Neupaver

Wabtec Corp. has named Albert J. Neupaver Chairman and CEO, and Raymond T. Betler President and Chief Operating Officer. Their appointments were effective May 14.

Neupaver, 62 (at left), has been Wabtec’s President and CEO, and a board member, since 2006. He succeeds William E. Kassling as Chairman of the Board and will also remain CEO. Kassling will remain on the board in the role of Lead Director, after being elected for a new, three-year term at the May 14 annual shareholders meeting.

Ray1Betler, 57, joined Wabtec in 2008 as vice president and group executive of the company’s Transit Group and was promoted to COO in 2010. As President and COO, he will assume additional responsibility for Wabtec’s day-to-day operations, including functional areas such as finance, human resources, corporate development, and legal. He has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry.

“Ray’s promotion to President and COO marks an important step in our ongoing succession planning process and recognizes the vital role he has played since joining the company,” Neupaver said. “He has strong leadership capabilities and tremendous industry experience. I look forward to continuing to work with Ray and the rest of our team to build on Wabtec’s success.

“We would also like to recognize and thank Bill Kassling, who is really the patriarch of modern-day Wabtec. Bill has been a key driving force at the company for nearly 30 years, and has made invaluable contributions to Wabtec’s success and standing in the industry. I’m personally grateful that we can continue to benefit from his counsel and honored to succeed him as Chairman.”

In related news, Wabtec’s Board of Directors approved a two-for-one stock split and a 60% dividend increase. The stock split will be in the form of a 100% stock dividend, to be paid June 11, 2013 to shareholders of record June 3, 2013. Shareholders will receive one additional share of Wabtec common stock for each share they own on the record date. The company expects its common stock to begin trading at the split-adjusted price on June 12, 2013.

The Board also increased Wabtec’s quarterly, split-adjusted dividend by 60%, to 4 cents per share, compared to an equivalent dividend of 2.5 cents per share prior to the split. The new dividend is payable Aug. 30, 2013 to shareholders of record Aug. 16, 2013. This is the third consecutive year the board has increased Wabtec’s dividend.

“We believe our current financial performance and future outlook provides the company with ample financial strength to return a higher portion of our cash flow to shareholders while we continue to invest in growth opportunities around the world,” said Neupaver. “In addition, we think the stock split will improve its liquidity and marketability.”