Thyssenkrupp under fire for expanding board amid cost cuts
German steel company has also named a new finance chief
Frankfurt — German steel giant Thyssenkrupp’s powerful labour representatives lashed out at the group’s leadership, saying a move to expand its management board at a time of cost cuts was sending a “devastating” sign to staff and marked a break with tradition.
Workers command great clout at the German industrial conglomerate, where they hold half of the 20 seats on the group’s supervisory board and give input on strategic matters.
But during a board meeting this week, they were outvoted by shareholder representatives, who approved plans to add two members to Thyssenkrupp’s management board, even though all labour representatives voted against the move.
The move comes at a time when Thyssenkrupp, under new CEO Miguel Lopez, has launched a performance programme to raise margins and meet financial targets in a bid to win back investor trust and revive its languishing share price.
“This is sending a devastating signal to our colleagues, to the nearly 100,000 Thyssenkrupp employees,” Thyssenkrupp labour representatives said in a statement, adding it was the first time in the group’s history that management board members had been appointed despite labour objections.
“There are savings programmes everywhere, performance is to be raised — pressure is at a maximum, investments have been and are being cut or frozen.”
New additions to Thyssenkrupp’s management board, which so far has three members, include Volkmar Dinstuhl, the main architect of the group’s landmark sale of its elevator division to private equity in 2020, the group said.
“Today’s unilateral move against the entire labour camp shows that the shareholder representatives at Thyssenkrupp are no longer interested in a sustainable co-operation with the labour side,” they said.
Thyssenkrupp’s top shareholder, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation, welcomed the board expansion as a way to enable the management to adequately tackle a challenging environment.
Since taking office in June, Lopez, a former manager at Siemens, has taken several steps to speed up Thyssenkrupp’s restructuring, including listing its hydrogen division.
Thyssenkrupp also said that Jens Schulte, finance chief of German privately held speciality glass maker Schott, would become its new CFO.
Schulte, who was instrumental in the IPO of Schott’s medical vials manufacturer Schott Pharma, will succeed Klaus Keysberg, who decided step down after his contract runs out on July 31 2024.
Schulte, who like Lopez held executive posts at Siemens AG in the past, is expected to take on his new position in the second half of Thyssenkrupp’s financial year, which starts on April 1.
Keysberg has served as Thyssenkrupp CFO since April 2020.
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