Handelsblatt Interview

EWE's Ousted CEO: My Dismissal is Unfair

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    EWE, Germany’s fifth largest utility with €8 billion in annual sales, has been plagued by a string of resignations in the past few months and CEO Matthias Brüggemann was fired this week.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The regional utility EWE is Germany’s fifth-largest energy company.
    • It fired its CEO Matthias Brüggemann for an unauthorized donation amid management turmoil and allegations of corruption.
    • He is accused of failing to follow company procedures in donating €253,000 ($267,000) to the Klitschko Foundation, set up by the superstar boxers Vitaly and Vladimir Klitschko.
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    Audio

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EWE-Vorstandschef Matthias Brückmann
Unfair dismissal: Former EWE CEO, Matthias Brückmann, says he plans to sue for unfair dismissal. Source: DPA

On Thursday morning, Matthias Brückmann, the chief executive of Germany’s fifth-largest utility EWE, had already heard that he had been fired. But he had not heard about it from his employers. The news had come to him via the German media.

It was everywhere – on the radio, TV and online. He was unemployed. Mr. Brückmann says he was stunned. Then two staff members bought him a stack of papers: His dismissal.

Handelsblatt spoke to Mr. Brückmann shortly after those termination papers arrived. He said he was planning to sue the company because his dismissal as a member of the board and chief executive officer, as well as the termination of his employment contract, were unjustified.

“As far as I am concerned, there was no breach of duty. That’s why I am absolutely confident that a court will establish that my dismissal was wrongful,” he said.

EWE’s supervisory board unanimously decided to fire Mr. Brückmann after a report by auditors KPMG found evidence of financial irregularities including a failure to follow company procedures in donating €253,000 ($267,000) to the Klitschko Foundation, set up by the superstar boxers Vitaly and Vladimir Klitschko.

There’s been talk of a dereliction of duty, but Mr. Brückmann contends the allegations against him seek to misrepresent normal, every day business transactions in order to oust him.

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