JPS Luncheon: Chris Pappas, “Private Equity and the Chemical Industry: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities”

Chris Pappas

Chris Pappas

The January 9, 2014, installment of the Joseph Priestley Society (JPS) lecture series featured a keynote address by Chris Pappas, president and CEO, Styron. Pappas presented “Private Equity and the Chemical Industry: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities.”


What is it like to work for a chemical company owned by private equity, and how does it differ from working for a chemical company with a public ownership structure? This lecture took a closer look at recent examples of private equity transactions in the industry and what the future may hold for this trend.

Over the past two decades the role of private equity in the chemical industry has grown. Private equity companies have taken a variety of approaches in entering the chemical industry—from acquiring divisions of large chemical companies, to buying small companies outright, to establishing new joint ventures in partnership with chemical companies. While private equity has a negative reputation among some of the public, it can play a valuable role in providing liquidity and allowing reconfiguration and consolidation that is much needed in the chemical industry.

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About the speaker

Christopher D. Pappas is president and chief executive officer of Styron, a leading global materials company dedicated to innovation and delivery for its customers, with strong global positions in four business areas: polystyrene and styrenic polymers, emulsion polymers, polycarbonate and engineered compounds, and PBR and SBR synthetic rubbers.

Pappas brings to Styron a 30-plus-year distinguished career and proven operating experience in the chemicals and plastics industry, and he is an accomplished leader of complex global businesses. In his role as Styron’s president and CEO he leads the company’s commitment to help customers meet their needs with innovative new products and sustainable solutions. Pappas started his career at The Dow Chemical Company, where he gathered industry experience in a number of sales and managerial positions between 1978 and 1996. In 1996 he joined DuPont Dow Elastomers LLC, where he held several leadership positions, initially as vice president of ethylene elastomers and from 1999 onward as commercial vice president.

He joined NOVA Chemicals Corporation in 2000. There he assumed roles with increasingly global responsibilities, first as senior vice president and president of styrenics (2000–2006), then chief operating officer (2006–2008), president and chief operating 0fficer (2008–2009), and president and CEO (2009). He was named to lead Styron in March 2010 and assumed the role in June 2010 on the sale of Styron from Dow to Bain Capital Partners. Pappas serves on the Executive Leadership Team and the board of directors of the new company.

Pappas also serves on the board of directors for Trinseo S.A. and FirstEnergy Corp. Previously, he has served on the board of directors for Methanex Corp., NOVA Chemicals Corporation, and Allegheny Energy, Inc. Pappas holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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