By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – BASF<BASFn.DE>, one of the world’s largest chemical groups, will replace Chief Executive Kurt Bock with his deputy Martin Brudermueller in May as it prepares to carve out its oil and gas division and spends billions of euros on farm seed assets.
Bock is set to become supervisory board chairman in 2020 after a two-year cooling-off period, the German chemicals maker said in a statement on Thursday.
“The change next year is part of the long-term succession planning for the Supervisory Board and the Board of Executive Directors of BASF,” said Juergen Hambrecht, the group’s current chairman.
Brudermueller was appointed deputy CEO in 2011 after losing out to Bock — finance chief at the time — in the race for the CEO role. He is also chief technology officer after a previous stint as head of Asia.
Brudermueller, with a business strategy background, is seen as more charismatic, and sometimes more impulsive, of the two.
BASF’s consensus-based corporate culture has prevented rivalries and differences from breaking out into the open.
Bock has long been criticised by investors for being too passive as rivals pushed for big mergers and acquisitions, especially in crop chemicals.
But BASF, whose products include catalytic converters, vitamins, engineering plastics and foam chemicals, has embarked on a series of medium-sized deals under his leadership during the past two years.
It paid 5.9 billion euros (£5.23 billion) in October to buy seed and herbicide businesses from Bayer <BAYGn.DE>.
It also bought Solvay’s <SOLB.BR> nylon business for 1.6 billion euros. In 2016, it bought Albemarle Corp’s surface-treatment unit Chemetall for $3.2 billion.
BASF is also in the process of finishing a deal to combine its oil and gas unit Wintershall with DEA, the energy group owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.
A 67 percent stake in the new entity for BASF is already agreed, as well as a possible initial public offering in the second half of 2018.
Hans-Ulrich Engel, in addition to being BASF’s chief financial officer, will take on the role as deputy CEO – or Vice Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, as the official title goes.
The number of executive board seats will shrink to seven from eight.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Keith Weir)