March 20, 2018 / 1:42 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-CNH Industrial CEO exit knocks shares, analysts still bet on spin-offs

(Changes dateline, rewrites throughout, adds analysts, shares)

MILAN, March 20 (Reuters) - Shares in CNH Industrial fell more than 2 percent on Tuesday after the trucks and tractor maker said Chief Executive Richard Tobin would step down to pursue another executive opportunity.

Tobin said earlier this year he was open to considering spinning off some of the company’s units once their balance sheets were sound.

His departure - effective April 27, following the release of the company’s first-quarter results - is unlikely to impact potential future spin-offs at the company, analysts said.

CNH Industrial shares were down 1.7 percent at 10.57 euros by 1307 GMT, lagging a 0.5 percent gain in Italy’s blue-chip index.

“Given the manager’s high standing, we do not rule out that the news may temporarily penalise the stock,” Banca IMI said in a note.

Tobin has led CNH Industrial for more than six years, leading the company since it was created from the merger of Fiat Industrial and its U.S. unit CNH.

It makes most of its profit on farming machinery, but other units include manufacturing of Iveco commercial vehicles, construction equipment and powertrains.

“We think (Tobin’s departure) will not affect the decision to spin-off the commercial vehicle-powertrain segment that we believe remains a concrete option,” Italian broker Equita said in a note.

Tobin was close to Sergio Marchionne, the boss of carmaker Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and chairman of CNH Industrial.

“Rich and I have worked together for over 20 years across various companies and industries and I wish him all the best in this next chapter of his career,” Marchionne said in a statement.

CNH Industrial said Tobin would be temporary replaced by Derek Neilson who most recently served as chief operating officer for the EMEA region and president of the commercial vehicles business.

Neilson joined the company in 1999. His experience in that unit “could have implications for the company’s willingness to potentially spin off the segment in the future,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.

CNH Industrial posted an 18 percent rise in 2017 operating profit for its industrial activities, while margins rose to 5.8 percent from 5.5 percent. (Reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru and Maria Pia Quaglia in Milan; editing by Jason Neely)

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