As boss of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of frozen pizza, Albert Christmann has a lot on his plate. He took over as chief executive of Germany’s Oetker Group this spring, just as the food-and-drinks conglomerate announced the sale of its container-shipping business that contributes half of group sales of €12 billion. Not only does Mr. Christmann now have to steer the Oetker into new waters, he has to keep on board the eight Oetker family members that control the company. They reportedly had a hard time agreeing on the sale of the shipping business – and on an outsider becoming chief executive. Comfort food, anyone?
No, Mr. Christmann insists, acquisitions might be the answer. The 53-year old told Handelsblatt that selling Hamburg Süd to Danish container giant Maersk for €3.7 billion was tough, but “strategically correct,” and laughed as he vowed: “I’m not going to let anyone undermine me – and I don’t have the feeling anyone will.” He pledged Oetker and its 400 subsidiaries would “continue to develop internationally” – organically and through acquisitions – and did not exclude Oetker eventually tapping the capital markets.