Deutsche Bahn

Merkel’s Man on Fast Track to Become Rail Boss

pofalla merkel 2009 reuters ina fassbender
Ronald Pofalla and Chancellor Angela Merkel back in 2009.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German railway operator Deutsche Bahn is struggling with declining profits and mounting competition from coach companies and foreign rail companies in its home market.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s former chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, will get a management board position at Deutsche Bahn on July 27, sources told Handelsblatt.
    • Mr. Pofalla was appointed as the state-owned company’s chief lobbyist in January in a move that critics said smacked of patronage.
    • Deutsche Bahn’s supervisory board will decide a major management overhaul on July 27 as part of a restructuring plan aimed at cutting costs and boosting competitiveness.
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    Audio

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The supervisory board of Deutsche Bahn will sign off on a major management restructuring at its next meeting on July 27, Handelsblatt has learned.

Four top executives will go and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s former chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, currently the railway’s chief lobbyist, will get a board position as head of legal affairs.

Mr. Pofalla, 56, currently tasked with using his political contacts to further the interests of the company, is seen as the most likely contender to succeed current Chief Executive Rüdiger Grube.

Mr. Grube is due to retire at the end of 2017 but may leave sooner because his performance has been patchy. Earnings have been tumbling and the company has been losing ground to competitors in its home market.

Mr. Pofalla’s move to Deutsche Bahn drew heavy criticism from trade union representatives, opposition parties and even within the ranks of his conservative Christian Democratic Party. It led to calls for legislation forcing politicians to take a cooling-off period between leaving office and taking jobs in industry.

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