Who's who

Meet Germany's rogues and heroes in our 2018 gallery

executives on the move 2018
He'll stay here, she'll move up and he's getting the boot. Photo sources: DPA, Reuters and PR [M]

From blue-chip DAX companies to promising newcomer companies, managers and teams are changing as the year turns. That spells power struggles, proud successors, family feuds: Germany’s business world has all the drama of Shakespeare. Meet 12 executives who have left their mark on their company — for better or worse — or stand to make an impact.

bayer schipper
Bayer In: Heiko Schipper Heiko Schipper will head consumer health as of March 1, coming from food conglomerate Nestle, where he led the baby food division. At Bayer, he will oversee the nonprescription drug business. He replaces Erica Mann, the first woman in the company’s 150-year history to make it to the board room. Also on the move: CFO Johannes Dietsch departs Bayer on May 31, and Wolfgang Nickl will take over on June 1.
theodor weimer, deutsche börse
Deutsche Börse In: Theodor Weimer It has taken Theodor Weimer a long time to get a post at the helm of a DAX company and he long seemed comfortable at HypoVereinsbank. But he began as CEO of Deutsche Börse on January 1, replacing Carsten Kengeter. Mr. Weimer is expected to bring calm after a ruffled few years for the company. Andreas Preuß, the interim CEO, will now lead IT and operations through May 2019. And Jeffrey Tessler, who leads clients, products and core markets, will stay on through December 2018 at least.
thomas ebeling, prosiebensat.1
ProSiebenSat.1 Out: Thomas Ebeling He was once seen as a magician who transformed a penny stock into the first media company on the blue-chip DAX index. But CEO Thomas Ebeling takes his final bow next month. Mr. Ebeling, a former pharma exec whose contract was supposed to run through mid-2019, has himself to blame. After ProSiebenSat.1’s economic outlook was downgraded in November, he called his TV viewers “a little obese and a little poor.” Who will replace Mr. Ebeling remains to be seen; until then, board member Conrad Albert, now deputy chairman, will keep the show going.
airbus tom enders
Airbus Out: Tom Enders At Europe’s biggest aerospace company, chief Tom Enders’ main beef was power struggles with French COO Fabrice Bregier, who oversaw the commercial aircraft division. Mr. Enders will eject from the pilot's seat in April 2019, but has a slew of high-level appointments to make before then, including a replacement for the troublesome Mr. Bregier who leaves in February. Plane spotters, keep an eye on helicopter lead Guillaume Faury, who will become head of commercial aircraft – and is a top candidate for the CEO post next year.
peter terium, innogy
Innogy Out: Peter Terium The Dutch CEO of this renewable energy company suddenly lost his post just before Christmas. Peter Terium had led the RWE subsidiary since April 2016 and had previously headed the whole of RWE, which still owns 77 percent of Innogy. Mr. Terium had successfully brought the power company onto the stock market in 2016, but apparently the board didn’t want to plug into his multi-billion-euro expansion plans. For now, HR boss Uwe Tigges is in charge.
otto lose, k+s
K+S Out: Otto Lose This mineral company based in Kassel became the world’s biggest salt producer with its 2009 takeover of Morton Salt. In pursuit of new flavor, K+S is restructuring and streamlining its executive board. Otto Lose, responsible for the potash and magnesium business since last January, left in November, and Thomas Nöcker, head of HR and IT, will leave in August 2018, both without replacements. Mr. Lose’s predecessor, Andreas Radmacher, also left prematurely, apparently after differences of opinion. While K+S has hinted at coming pay cuts for workers, the severance packages for executives are getting tastier and tastier.
dieter belle, leoni
Leoni Out: Dieter Bellé This Nuremberg-based auto supplier was aiming for stability when it promoted CFO Dieter Bellé to CEO in 2015. Instead it led to an embarrassing management breakdown. Mr. Bellé will step down in January, two years before his contract ends. Now there’s pressure on supervisory board chair Klaus Probst to rustle up a successor, but he shouldn’t have trouble attracting candidates: Leoni’s order books are full as it stands to profit greatly from e-mobility. Mr. Probst is hunting for a globally experienced chief who can bring the company into the digital age, and he's reportedly considering Stefan Sommer, who just left ZF Friedrichshafen.
ZF Friedrichshafen Out: Stefan Sommer This CEO’s departure in December ended a power struggle on Lake Constance. While ZF Friedrichshafen wants to become more international, its majority owner, a foundation run by the city of Friedrichshafen’s mayor, wants its hometown roots to grow deeper. The first act of business for Stefan Sommer’s replacement will be to write a dividend check. Instead of the previously set annual dividends of €50 million, Mayor Andreas Brand wants €160 million, so we can expect him to be choosy about who becomes the new CEO of ZF, the world’s fifth-largest auto parts manufacturer.
eric taberlet, pfeiffer vacuum
Pfeiffer Vacuum In: Eric Taberlet The Busch family has taken power at pump producer Pfeiffer Vacuum: First they bought 35 percent of its stock and forced out the supervisory board chairman, then CEO Manfred Bender had to go, too. His replacement, Eric Taberlet, has worked for Pfeiffer for years, and the Buschs hope he will be a more cooperative CEO. The job won’t be easy: Mr. Taberlet has to remember he serves all the shareholders, not just the Busch family. Nathalie Benedikt joined his side as CFO in November; she was on the board once before but left after conflict with Mr. Bender. But apparently, the Busch family considers that a virtue rather than a flaw.
michael schmelmer, boehringer ingelheim
Boehringer Ingelheim In: Michael Schmelmer Boehringer Ingelheim wants to embrace Big Data for medicine, so it’s fitting that the new CFO of this pharmaceutical company is an IT expert. Michael Schmelmer was promoted from CIO to CFO of Germany’s second-largest generic drug maker as of January 1. Former finance chief Simone Menne left after planning to take the company to the stock market; apparently she met resistance from owner Hubertus von Baumbach. Previously, she was at Lufthansa for 20 years but is said to have always had her eye on a CEO job.
Deutsche Bahn In: Sabina Jeschke Deutsche Bahn’s new executive for digital and tech started shaking things up at the rail company even before her first day: Sabine Jeschke had her office in Berlin outfitted with artificial grass. She spent the last eight years as a mechanical engineering professor in Aachen, and promises to bring innovation. It's all change at the train firm: New personnel director Martin Seiler came on board from Deutsche Telekom on January 1, replacing Ulrich Weber. Also joining the board this spring is Alexander Doll as director for freight traffic and logistics.
sven seidel, otto group
Otto Group In: Sven Seidel Connecting the online and offline worlds is what Sven Seidel is all about. He will come on board as Otto’s director of multichannel retail in April 2018. It’s a key position in CEO Alexander Birken’s team, where Mr. Seidel will consult subsidiaries and oversee import activities. Previously he was at grocery discounter Lidl, where his brash plans clashed with owner Klaus Gehrig, who gave him a pink slip in February. Hanjo Schneider, the board member for services including Hermes, stepped down as planned at the end of 2017.

A version of this article originally appeared in WirtschaftsWoche, a sister publication of Handelsblatt Global. To contact the staff: nadia.abdallah@wiwo.de

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