ERJ staff report (EPN)
Cologne – Lanxess, the German-headquartered rubber and thermoplastics group, said it has reached a mutual agreement to end the contract of Axel Heitmann, chairman of its board of management reports European Rubber Journal. The group’s supervisory board said it has appointed as his successor Matthias Zachert, former CFO of Lanxess, who left to become CFO of Merck in 2011.
There will be a gap between the departure of Heitmann on 28 February and the start of Zachert on 15 May. The group’s current CFO Bernhard Duettmann will perform the responsibilities of chairman of the board of management until Zachert’s arrival, said Lanxess.
In a statement Rolf Stomberg, chairman of the Lanxess supervisory board, thanked Heitmann and credited him with helping to transform the company, which was formed from businesses spun off by Bayer in 2004.
“Mr Heitmann has played a key role in shaping the company since its creation through consistent restructuring and strategic portfolio measures. He has formed Lanxess into a leading global specialty chemicals company, achieving many noticeable successes,” said Stomberg.
But he also made it clear the supervisory board considered the time had come to have someone new steering the company.
Stomberg said: “Lanxess is facing significant challenges, for example in terms of market capacities and business portfolio. Therefore, the Supervisory Board believes it is the right time to hand over responsibility to a new leadership in order to overcome these challenges. Mr Zachert performed excellent work as Chief Financial Officer at Lanxess and has an outstanding reputation among employees as well as in the capital market.”
Under Heitman’s leadership, Lanxess has followed a twin path of cost-cutting in its operations and strategic acquisitions plus investment in better performing businesses. But the group has faced continuing difficulties in some businesses, including those serving the automotive and tyre markets.
In September 2013, Lanxess said it would make 1,000 redundancies from its 17,500 workforce as part of an efficiency improvement program called "Advance". Approximately €150m in exceptional charges will be booked in 2013 and 2014 to cover the program, but the group said it expects the program to generate annual savings of roughly €100m from 2015 onward.
In November, Lanxess announced poor third-quarter results, with sales falling by 5 percent year-on-year to €2.05bn and pre-exceptionals Ebitda falling by 26 percent to €187m. Its outlook for the whole of 2013 was pre-exceptionals Ebitda of €710-760m, compared with €1.225bn in 2012.
Lanxess shares increased by about 10 percent following the announcement and were trading at €48.76 in morning trading on 27 January on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.