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Nova Chemicals parts ways with CEO

| Thursday, May 1, 2014, 6:03 p.m.

A contract dispute has led to a parting of ways between Nova Chemicals and CEO Randy Woelfel.

The Canadian-based chemicals manufacturer, which employs 400 people in the Pittsburgh region, announced on Thursday that Woelfel stepped down as CEO and board member because he and the company were “unable to come to mutual terms on a contract extension,” said Nova spokesman Pace Markowitz.

Nova's chief financial officer Todd Karran has stepped in as acting CEO while the company searches for a replacement.

“The business is continuing exactly as it was before,” Markowitz said. “There is no change to the strategy or growth plan.”

Markowitz declined to offer more specifics about the contract dispute that led to Woelfel's departure. Woelfel couldn't be reached on Thursday.

“The Board of Directors and Mr. Woelfel felt that this was the time for Randy to move onto new challenges and to make a leadership change at NOVA Chemicals,” said Khadem Abdulla Al Qubaisi, NOVA Chemicals chairman and IPIC managing director, in the statement.

Woelfel had been CEO since 2009, the same year that the company was acquired by International Petroleum Investment Co. of the United Arab Emirates. Nova is based in Calgary, Canada, and has its executive offices in Moon and a plant in Beaver County. The company employs 2,600 people, of which 400 work in the Pittsburgh region, Markowitz said.

The announcement occurred as Nova said its first-quarter profit increased 32 percent to $245 million, from $185 million in the first quarter of 2013. The boost in profits was mostly because of gains in its polyethylene business, which makes plastics used in consumer and industrial packaging.

In a statement on Thursday, the company offered no further details of Woelfel's departure beyond thanking him for “significant contributions” to the company and wishing “him well in the future.”

Chris Fleisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or cfleisher@tribweb.com.

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