ARNHEM, The Netherlands - Akzo Nobel announced plans to separate its recently launched Nobilas Claims & Fleet Solutions, a business that manages the total auto accident-repair cycle, as a new, stand-alone business unit, effective April 1.

The new business unit will be headed by Cor de Grauw, currently general manager of Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes.

Rudy van der Meer, the member of Akzo Nobel's Board of Management responsible for Coatings, said the move is being made "to stimulate an accelerated growth path" for Nobilas. Cor de Grauw said the company's objective is to expand Nobilas over the next five years as a service supplier to the global market of car insurers and corporate fleets. He said the business is able to offer "a comprehensive package of modular-based services and global customized solutions," while reducing costs from the "total value chain."

Nobilas recently entered into a strategic alliance with Aon, reported to be the largest automotive-service provider in the world with operations in claims, risk management and risk finance.

De Grauw joined Akzo in 1978 as a research chemist and has held various international marketing and technical-support positions in the Car Refinishes business unit. He was named general manager of Car Refinishes in 1993, and has presided over the growth of the business from a regional position into one of the three largest global auto-refinish suppliers in the industry, the company said.

Akzo Nobel also named Rinus Rooseboom, senior Group director Coatings, to succeed De Grauw as general manager of the Car Refinishes business unit, effective April 1. Rooseboom joined Akzo at the former Enka fiber division in 1970. Following the Nobel acquisition in 1994, he was appointed general manager of the Decorative Coatings South business unit and led expansion efforts for the company's decorative/architectural paint business in Western Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the Far East.

In 2002 Rooseboom was named senior Group director Coatings with specific responsibility at the Group level for Technology and Engineering, Health, Safety and Environmental Affairs, Information Management, Research & Development, and Purchasing.