December 8, 2014 / 4:12 AM / 3 years ago

UTC chairman says voiced concern about ex-CEO's priorities before departure

Dec 7 (Reuters) - United Technologies Corp's new chairman, Edward Kangas, said former chief executive Louis Chenevert stepped down late last month after Kangas spoke to him out of concern about his priorities.

The U.S. conglomerate on Nov. 24 said Chenevert had told the board he was retiring as CEO and chairman with immediate effect, an announcement that stunned Wall Street.

No reason was given at the time for Chenevert's departure as head of the maker of Otis elevators, Pratt & Whitney jet engines and Sikorsky helicopters. He was replaced as CEO by Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes, while Kangas, who had been lead independent director, became chairman.

In comments provided by a company spokesman this weekend, Kangas said the situation "wasn't a crisis."

"It was just a growing issue and concern which caused me, with counsel from the board, to discuss with Louis his priorities - personal and business," Kangas said.

"After consideration, Louis concluded that the company was in a good place, had a great candidate to be the next CEO, and it was a good time for him to retire," Kangas said, adding that the separation was "amicable."

Kangas first made the comments in a Dec. 5 article in the Wall Street Journal. According to the article, which cited anonymous sources, there was concern among directors and senior managers that he was disengaged from the details of the company's operations and too focused on private interests, such as his yacht.

United Technologies hosts analysts and investors in New York for its annual outlook meeting on Thursday. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in NEW YORK)

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