Thyssenkrupp gets new CEO in strategic reshuffle

Martina Merz, current chairwoman of the supervisory board of German steelmaking, elevators and engineering company Thyssenkrupp AG, will become the company’s CEO on October 1, as part of a broader reshuffle as the company pursues new strategic aims.

Merz’s appointment was unanimously decided by the thyssenkrupp supervisory board in an extraordinary meeting Friday, after the executive board mandate of Guido Kerkhoff, the current CEO, was terminated by mutual agreement, thyssenkrupp said in a statement Monday.

Merz will be delegated to the group’s executive board for a maximum period of 12 months, after which she will return to the supervisory board.

Merz will continue with the strategic alignment for thyssenkrupp which was announced by Kerkhoff in May, the new CEO was cited as saying in the statement. She thanked Kerkhoff for his commitment to the company since becoming CEO last year “in a difficult situation.”

The company adopted a new development plan following the European Commission’s prohibition in May of its plans to merge its steelmaking business with Tata Steel Europe. The EC said it could not approve the merger on competition grounds. The merger would have formed Europe’s second-biggest steelmaker, with around 21 million mt/year of steelmaking capacity.

Both thyssenkrupp and Tata have continued with policies of some divestments in Europe since that time. Thyssenkrupp’s new strategic plan involves 6,000 job losses, potential partnerships with other companies and an IPO of its elevators business, considered by analysts at Jefferies International as the company’s “crown jewel.”

In addition, the supervisory board has appointed Dr. Klaus Keysberg to the executive board of thyssenkrupp effective October 1. Keysberg, who will be responsible for the materials businesses on the group executive board, has held various positions at thyssenkrupp since 1996 and has been CEO of the Business Area Materials Services since the beginning of the year. He will continue to hold this position until a successor is appointed.

Merz’s successor at the head of the supervisory board will be Prof. Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, a former Siemens executive board member who has been a member of the thyssenkrupp supervisory board since April.

— Diana Kinch