Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Knorr-Bremse chairman quits

In a strange move, which must have as its ignition point some events of the last few weeks, the chairman of Knorr-Bremse has quit.
However, recently, Knorr-Bremse acquired two companies which took the business into exhaust management and electric power steering. Both are new strategic directions for the German family-owned busisness which has established a track-record in braking systems.
The acquisition of one of these companies. GT Group, of Peterlee, County Durham, we reported on 21 June, two weeks prior to the following statement. The departure of Knorr-Bremse’s chairman is likely to have been a subject of some discussion within upper escelons of management at the UK company, the more so as the acquisition took place before the UK Referendum vote on 23 June 2016. However, talks between the two sides had been going on for some months before the announcement.
The other acquisition by Knorr-Bremse was tedrive Steering Systems GmbH, a german technology compaany..
In its statement, Knorr-Bremse said: “Following intensive discussions, Dr. Bernd Bohr and Heinz Hermann Thiele have agreed that Dr. Bohr will resign his seat on the Supervisory Board of Knorr-Bremse AG effective 4 July, 2016 and thus also step down as chairman of this body.”
“The reasons have been discussed in detail, mutually understood and accepted. The Company does not intend to comment on the various motives that led to this step, nor is this necessary in view of the shareholder structure of Knorr-Bremse. We will not be commenting on speculation, be it internally or externally.”
“Dr. Bohr was appointed by the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of Knorr-Bremse AG on March 11, 2016 and elected Chairman of the newly composed Supervisory Board at its inaugural meeting. At the same time, he took over from Mr. Thiele as Chairman of the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is an informal body called into being by the shareholders over 30 years ago. Dr. Bohr will also stand down from this position at the same time.”
“Dr. Bohr and Mr. Thiele, who have known each other well for decades and respect one another, regret that, for important reasons, their collaboration cannot continue.”
“The parting of the ways takes place by friendly mutual consent; Dr. Bohr will retain his links to the Company in an advisory capacity.”
“His successor in both offices from July 5, 2016 is Hans-Georg Härter, former Chairman of the Executive Board of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, who has been a member of the Supervisory Board for many years and has been its Deputy Chairman since 11 March, 2016. Mr. Härter and Mr. Thiele are also linked by a long and trusting personal relationship.”
“On June 29, the Supervisory Board of Knorr-Bremse AG unanimously elected Mr. Härter as its new Chairman.”
The wording of the above statement is curious indeed. But, as ever, it is what is NOT said, which holds the key to these strange events. It would seem that the management style of one or both of the key players involved in this turmoil could have played some part in setting in train the dividing of their ways. Quite what advice Dr. Bohr will be allowed to bring ("in an advisory capacity")bearing in mind his continued role will be interesting to say the least.
                                    Notable achievements
Exactly three years ago, Dr. Bohr presided over his last international automotive press briefing before retiring.  The 56-year-old chairman of Robert Bosch’s automotive group, and a board member of the Stuttgart-based supplier, stepped down on 1 July 1 after 30 years with the company. The full and frank reasons for his departure were not fully explained.
Speaking to journalists at the time, he explained how he had piloted the company through its dark days, highlighting his achievements as:
China and India’s share of global vehicle production has more than tripled, from 8 per cent to 28 per cent, in 10 years.
Bosch sales in both countries have skyrocketed from €900 million to €7.4 billion ($1.2 billion-$9.8 billion) over the same period.
54 per cent of vehicles worldwide have electronic stability control (a Bosch innovation), up from 14 per cent 10 years ago.
 22 per cent of new cars worldwide have gasoline direct injection, up from 2 per cent a decade ago.

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