KINGSPORT, TN - Eastman Chemical Co.'s board of directors elected J. Brian Ferguson chairman and CEO, effective Jan. 1. Ferguson succeeds Earnest W. Deavenport Jr., who earlier announced his plans to retire at the end of 2001.

Ferguson was formerly president of Eastman's Chemicals Group. He has held a variety of manufacturing and corporate positions with the company, including vice president of Industry and Federal Affairs, president of the Polymers Group, and managing director of Eastman's operations in Asia-Pacific.

Eastman also said it will launch a new corporate structure subsequent to an earlier announcement that it will delay a proposed division of Eastman into two independent companies. Under the new structure, the company will operate two independent divisions - Eastman Co. and Voridian Co.

The company also named Allan R. Rothwell executive vice president of Eastman Chemical Co. and president of Voridian Co. Rothwell was formerly president of Eastman's Polymers Group.

Eastman Co. will consist of businesses that are now part of the company's Chemicals Group, including units that supply raw materials for coatings, adhesives and inks. The Voridian division will include the company's PET plastics and fibers business.

In announcing a delay of the proposed split into two separate companies, Eastman cited weakened market conditions and tightening financial markets. The company said it would reassess the prospects for the split in mid-2002.