USG names James Metcalf CEO

Posted Sep. 28, 2010 at 6:23 a.m.

USG Corp., the largest U.S. maker of gypsum wallboard, said James S. Metcalf will take over as chief executive officer from William C. Foote on Jan. 1 as the company tries to reverse 11 consecutive quarters of losses.

Metcalf, 52, who joined the sales force in 1980, has been president and chief operating officer of Chicago-based USG for the last four years, the company said in a statement. Foote, who is 59 years old and has been CEO for 15 years, will continue as chairman.

USG began to lose money in 2007 as annualized housing starts plummeted. Home starts fell to a low of 477,000 in 2009 from a record 2.27 million in January 2006, cutting the demand for wallboard.

The company has closed factories and borrowed to build cash reserves to weather the housing slump, including selling $300 million of convertible debt to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in 2008. Berkshire is USG’s largest shareholder, owning 17 percent of shares as of June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Metcalf said in the statement he will focus on four strategies: strengthening the core business, expanding internationally, developing goods related to existing products and increasing innovation.

USG rose 18 cents to $13.67 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have dropped 2.7 percent this year.

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