Thyssenkrupp boss Merz quits – López Borrego successor

steel group

Thyssenkrupp boss Merz quits – López Borrego successor

Thyssenkrupp CEO Martina Merz is retiring prematurely from the steel company's top post.

Thyssenkrupp CEO Martina Merz is retiring prematurely from the steel company’s top post.

Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa

The industrial group is getting a new boss: The businessman Miguel Ángel López Borrego is to replace Martina Merz at the top of the group at the beginning of June. This was preceded by a conflict about the right strategy.

Updated: 04/24/2023, 19:43

Eat. Thyssenkrupp CEO Martina Merz stops prematurely. The company surprisingly announced in Essen that she had asked the Personnel Committee of the Supervisory Board to terminate her contract as soon as possible. The committee has already proposed a successor to the Supervisory Board. Accordingly, the current interim boss of the auto supplier Norma Group, Miguel Ángel López Borrego, is to become the new CEO on June 1st.

Merz (60) has been CEO of Thyssenkrupp since October 2019. The trained mechanical engineer took over the group in a difficult situation. Her contract was extended to 2028 in May last year.

The stock exchange reacted negatively to the announcement of the change at the top of the company. Thyssenkrupp shares fell by more than 12 percent to around EUR 6.40, making them by far the weakest value in the MDax stock market segment. Investors now fear further delays in the important restructuring of the group, said Frederik Altmann from Alpha securities trading.

López Borrego (58) studied business administration in Mannheim and Toronto after graduating from high school in Hesse. The Spaniard, who was born in Germany, began his professional career as a controller at the car electronics manufacturer VDO. At Siemens he was CFO of various business units. From 2018 to 2022 he was head of Siemens Spain and chairman of the board of directors of Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy.

According to Russwurm, López Borrego is a very experienced financial expert

Thyssenkrupp Supervisory Board Chairman Siegfried Russwurm described López Borrego as an “international manager with broad industrial experience in the areas of digitization and Industry 4.0”. He is also a very experienced financial expert. “With him at the helm, we will continue on the path of transformation on the basis of the strategic lines that have been developed.” This is challenging, but necessary, as the restructuring of Thyssenkrupp is not yet complete. For some time now, the steel and industrial group has been reorganized into a “Group of Companies”, in which the individual businesses are to act more independently than before.

The Krupp Foundation, Thyssenkrupp’s largest shareholder with around 21 percent, advocates sticking to the strategy. Ursula Gather, Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, said she was still convinced that with the strategic course Merz had taken, Thyssenkrupp would be able to remain competitive and pay dividends in the long term.

IG Metall: “Time is of the essence”

The deputy chairman of the supervisory board and IG Metall board member, Jürgen Kerner, is urging us to hurry: “Now it’s about us taking action quickly under new leadership.” The new chairman of the board, López Borrego, will not have much time to familiarize himself. “The problems are on the table, time is of the essence.” IG Metall expects the board of directors to quickly develop solution concepts and closely involve the employee side: “We are ready to examine future options for every business, but we will take every concept to the Measure prospects for future business viability and job security.”

IG Metall recently criticized Merz’s structure of Thyssenkrupp as a group of largely independent companies. “The concept of the “Group of Companies” has failed for us!” said a letter from the employee side to the Thyssenkrupp works council after the Supervisory Board meeting at the end of March. In all areas there are ideas and concepts to strengthen the business in the future. However, the group is not in a position to realize prospects for all businesses. For months, there has been a lack of an overall concept from the board. “Nothing has moved since last autumn and time has been wasted unnecessarily again. That is unacceptable!” the IG Metall employee representatives had written.

Merz wants to clear the way for a new phase

Russwurm, who is also President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), praised Merz. She took on a very difficult task at a challenging time and, with a great deal of commitment and expertise, initiated a comprehensive change process at Thyssenkrupp. “Your definition of target, according to which the best possible further development of the business is more important than the ownership structure, was also clearly supported by the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting in February 2023,” he emphasized. We respect her decision to withdraw from the leadership now.

According to the announcement, Merz said: “Key strategic decisions have been made.” Promising talks with possible partners have been started for the steel division’s independence. “In the upcoming phase, the focus is on financial expertise and further improving performance. Additional commercial skills are definitely useful there.” In the interest of the company, she wants to pave the way for this focus.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:230424-99-431530/6 (dpa)

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