The Caterpillar Board of Directors Wednesday appointed James W. Owens vice chairman and named him the next chairman and chief executive officer. He will replace Glen A. Barton, who has elected to retire January 31, 2004, after nearly 43 years of Caterpillar service and five years as chairman and chief executive officer.

Barton will turn 65 in August, the mandatory retirement age for Caterpillar officers, but he chose to retire early so the leadership transition corresponds with Caterpillar’s annual planning cycle.

Owens, 57, joined Caterpillar in 1972 as a corporate economist and held various management positions in economics, accounting and product source planning. In 1987 he became managing director of P.T. Natra Raya, Caterpillar's joint venture in Indonesia. He was elected a corporate vice president in 1990 and named president of Solar Turbines Incorporated, a Caterpillar subsidiary in San Diego. In 1993 he became chief financial officer and in 1995 assumed the position of group president.

“Glen informed us more than a year ago of his plans to retire at the end of 2003, and the Board initiated its succession planning process which led us to this decision,” said John T. Dillon, chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee. “After several meetings, we concluded that Jim Owens is the right choice to lead the company.”