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Whirlpool Restructures Senior Ranks

Benton Harbor, Mich. — Whirlpool has promoted North America president Marc Bitzer to the new post of vice chairman, and has tapped U.S. operations chief Joseph Liontine to succeed him.

The reorganization, which also includes the promotion to vice chairman of international president and former U.S. head Michael Todman, will help the company to better achieve its global growth objectives, the majap maker said.

In his new role, Bitzer will continue to oversee the manufacturer’s North American business, and the European, African and Middle Eastern divisions that were added to his plate last year. He assumes additional responsibility for KitchenAid small appliances, and will honcho the integration of Indesit, the $3.7 billion Italian majap maker and Merloni spinoff that Whirlpool acquired last week.

Liontine, who also assumes an executive VP title, will lead all North American operations and reports to Bitzer.

A veteran of Pepsico and Quaker Oats, Lionitine joined the company in 2004 and has variously served as finance manager, VP/general manager of Whirlpool Canada, U.S. key account sales general manager, and North America marketing VP. He was appointed U.S. operations president in 2013.

“Joe is well positioned to expand his leadership responsibilities throughout North America to achieve results in line with our strategic growth priorities,” said Whirlpool chairman/CEO Jeff Fettig.

Separately, Fettig said the new vice chairman appointments will “bring leadership focus on our strategic initiatives for growth within all of our global markets.”

In their new roles, Bitzer and Todman will “help drive our aggressive growth strategy, integrate acquisitions, and drive product leadership and innovation in a recovering global economy,” he noted.

Todman will continue to oversee the company’s Asian and Latin American businesses, as well as its global information systems unit. He will also lead the integration of China’s Hefei Sanyo, an $866 million manufacturer of washers, refrigerators and microwave ovens that Whirlpool acquired today.

The Indesit and Hefei Sanyo purchases, along with Electrolux’s planned $3.3 billion buyout of GE Appliances, signal a heightened global-growth-through-acquisition strategy among the world’s top majap makers.

All three appointments are effective Nov. 1.