By Patrick Raleigh, UT On-line news editorHouston, Texas-Patrick Thomas is leaving his position as president of Huntsman Polyurethanes to help the Huntsman organisation prepare for a major change in its ownership structure. Tony Hankins is to be the new leader of the PU business from 1 March, the company said 19 Feb. “I have now asked him [Thomas] to take a lead role across the entire Huntsman organization in helping us prepare our businesses for an eventual liquidity event,” said Peter Huntsman, president and CEO of the Huntsman companies, in a press statement. “It is the intention in the next 12-18 months to consider some kind of equity event, whether an IPO … or whatever,” a Huntsman spokesman said in a 19 Feb telephone interview.Thomas’ new role will include steering a recently launched project to cut the group’s annual costs by around $200 million, according to the spokesman. The aim is for Huntsman to become “a very fit company ready for whatever [decision is taken],” he said.Executives of the Huntsman family-controlled group have previously revealed that an IPO (Initial Public Offering) might be on the cards. The proposal was aired shortly after a debt restructuring plan, which helped Huntsman to pull back from the brink of bankruptcy.Under the financial restructuring, completed in September 2002, equity firm MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners gained a 49.9-percent stake in Huntsman.Thomas has led Huntsman Polyurethanes business-including its ICI Polyurethanes predecessor, acquired by Huntsman in 1999-for over seven years.Hankins, who joined Huntsman with the ICI acquisition, has most recently been serving as president of Huntsman Performance Products. He has previously held global management roles at Huntsman Polyurethanes.Hankins “cut his management teeth in the Polyurethanes business, successfully leading many of its divisions in Europe, Asia and the Americas,” said Peter Huntsman, in the firm’s statement. “
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