Rollier will lead Groupe Michelin forward

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During an hour-long press conference at the company’s Challenge Bibendum on June 10 at the CERAM, a test track and research facility just outside Paris, Michel Rollier left no doubt about who is now leading Groupe Michelin.

In response to a direct question about Michelin’s management following the recent death of Co-managing Partner Edouard Michelin, Rollier said, "I am the sole managing partner of Michelin and a co-manager is not on the agenda."

He did add that the supervisory board and he might consider this action in the future, but given the company’s constitution, this does not have to take place right now. “Michelin has one boss, and I am the boss.”

Michelin's supervisory board monitors the management of the company on an ongoing basis on behalf of its shareholders. It is made up of seven members, appointed for five years of board service.

Rollier said he intends to see Michelin "continue to move forward successfully in the path that Edouard set forth."

In response to a question about strategy and changes for the company, Rollier said he had worked closely with Edouard Michelin and has a clear understanding of that strategy, and "we must not redefine that strategy, but will roll-out the current strategy."

Rollier does not plan to conduct a "road show" to discuss the management of the company with the outside community, but believes he must work inside Michelin right now to convey the strategy to its employees.

The company’s strategy was previously stated by Edouard Michelin in May, Rollier said. It plans to increase its geographic spread by 10% and still achieve productivity and structural gains. "This should let us reach 10% profits and 10% return on our capital," he stated.

Achieving these gains will take a 1.3 billion (euro) investment per year through 2010, primarily in developing countries, said Rollier. He added that maintaining profitability is a challenge since the tire industry has been under intense cost pressures with skyrocketing raw material costs. "Our world is one of high priced commodities."

When asked about the possibility of Rene Zingraff returning, Rollier said he views Zingraff as an excellent advisor, but has no plans to see him return in any other capacity. (Following Zingraff's retirement on May 12, Edouard Michelin and Rollier co-managed the company.) Rollier mentioned Zingraff’s soon-to-be-reached mandatory retirement age as a reason for this strategy.

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