Federal-Mogul shuffles top post for 3rd time in less than 2 years

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Federal-Mogul Corp., which counts on Europe for nearly half of its sales, said one of its co-CEOs is stepping down to be replaced by a board member and executive affiliated with its controller shareholder -- longtime Wall Street player Carl Icahn.

The diversified powertrain and spare parts supplier named Icahn executive Daniel Ninivaggi to co-CEO and CEO of its aftermarket group.

He replaces Kevin Freeland in the position; Freeland is leaving the company for personal reasons, the company said in a statement.

Freeland was hired in the role in May. Ninivaggi is the third executive in the position in less than two years. Rainer Jueckstock continues as the other co-CEO.

Ninivaggi had served as president and CEO of New York-based Icahn Enterprises LP since 2010. While at Icahn Enterprises, Ninivaggi served in leadership roles at Tropicana Entertainment Inc. and on boards of various Icahn-controlled assets such as XO Holdings Inc. and Viskase Companies Inc.

Prior to joining Icahn, he served as of counsel for Chicago-based law firm Winston & Strawn LLP and in a variety of executive roles at Lear Corp., including general counsel, chief administrative officer and executive vice president.

Ninivaggi earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Stanford Law School.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2008 under Icahn, the Southfield, Michigan-based supplier has struggled with profitability, reporting a net loss of $45 million in 2009 and a net loss of $117 million in 2012.

However, the company initiated significant cost-cutting strategies in 2013, including the closure or downsizing of seven plants and a divestiture. In June, the company sold its connecting rod and camshaft business to Addison, Illinois-based JD Norman Industries Inc.

The measures led to a positive net income of $38 million in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30.

Federal-Mogul ranks No. 50 on the Automotive News Europe list of the top 100 global suppliers with estimated worldwide sales to automakers of $4.3 billion in 2012. Europe accounted for 49 percent of that total.

You can reach Dustin Walsh at dwalsh@crain.com.

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