Business blog: Running Lanxess
ERJ staff report (PR)
When Bayer was spinning out Lanxess as an independent specialty chemicals business back in 2004, I recall Axel Heitmann being literally chased out of a press conference at the chemical group's headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany.
In hot pursuit were journalists keen to get some information on his strategy for the venture, which was then widely seen as a vehicle for Bayer to exit many less profitable business areas. Chairman elect Heitmann was, at that stage, forbidden from commenting - hence the hasty getaway.
In subsequent years, Heitmann surprised the doubters by turning in a series of very solid results as Lanxess became established in the market. Therefore, having just returned to writing about the rubber industry, I was surprised to see that he was once again heading for the exit - 'chased' this time by his company superiors.
According to a Bloomberg report, Lanxess' now former leader is 'carrying the can' in part for having failed to diversify the business into non-automotive markets, and had been left wrong-footed by an EPDM expansion in Asia amid overcapacity in the sector.
All eyes, so, will now be on new chairman Matthias Zachert, who is charged with reining in costs and restoring growth at the €8nb plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals supplier.
Promisingly, Zachert's track record should give him a good head-start: as well as expertise developed in his previous roles as CFO of both Merck and before that Lanxess, he is also - as former colleagues told Bloomberg- a keen jogger ...