Bankrupt automotive battery maker Exide Technologies has appointed Craig Muhlhauser chairman. Muhlhauser had been CEO of Princeton, NJ-based Exide since last September. He succeeds Robert A. Lutz, who resigned as chairman but will remain a director of Exide. Lutz had been chairman since December 1998.
Mulhauser takes over at a critical juncture for Exide. The battery maker is suing Arthur Hawkins, its former chairman, president & CEO, and Douglas N. Pearson, formerly executive VP &d president of North American operations, to recover approximately $1.1-million in legal and defense fees.
Both Hawkins and Pearson were forced to resign in October 1998 and since their resignations, Exide has been the subject of several investigations and lawsuits. The culmination of those proceedings was the indictment of Hawkins, Pearson and a close associate, Alan E. Gauthier, in March of last year on a variety of criminal charges, including wire fraud.
The government investigations have all been resolved either by settlements or by decisions not to proceed by the agencies involved. The private party claims were resolved by a "global" settlement in May 1999, and affirmed by the court in February 2000. Altogether, according to Exide, those settlements have cost the company more than $50 million.