By Christoph Steitz
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Thyssenkrupp <TKAG.DE> moved on Friday to fill key management positions, preparing for the spin off its capital goods business after a tumultuous year that saw the resignation of the conglomerate’s top leadership.
The German steel-to-elevators group said it would propose Johannes Dietsch, finance chief of pharmaceuticals group Bayer <BAYGn.DE> until May, as chief financial officer from February 2019 with a three-year contract.
Dietsch, 56, joins Thyssenkrupp during one of its largest ever restructurings: a planned spin-off of its elevators, car parts and plant engineering units into a separately listed entity to be called Thyssenkrupp Industrials.
The move came in response to years of shareholder pressure to simplify the sprawling group’s structure, culminating in the resignation of the group’s Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger and Chairman Ulrich Lehner in July.
Dietsch was CFO at Bayer from October 2014 to May 2018, where he arranged funding for the $63 billion all-cash takeover of U.S. seeds maker Monsanto, including bond issues and a capital increase.
He also oversaw the separate listing and gradual sale of Bayer’s chemicals and plastics division Covestro <1COV.DE>, now worth 8 billion euros (7.22 billion pounds).
“He brings exactly the skills and experience needed to manage the separation process at Thyssenkrupp together with the current members of the Board,” Thyssenkrupp Supervisory Board Chairman Bernhard Pellens said in a statement.
Dietsch brings the number of Thyssenkrupp’s management board members back to four. Guido Kerkhoff, who was appointed Thyssenkrupp’s permanent CEO in September, previously held the position of finance chief.
Thyssenkrupp also named 56-year old Peter Walker as the new CEO of its elevators unit, the group’s most profitable division that will form the heart of the planned spin-off.
Walker joined the unit’s board on Feb. 1 as chief operating officer and succeeds Andreas Schierenbeck as CEO, who left the group on Nov. 30 after margins fell further behind peers, most notably Finland’s Kone <KNEBV.HE>.
“He is a longstanding expert in the elevator business, a hands-on, internationally experienced manager with the necessary operating experience to move the business forward and increase its margin,” Kerkhoff said in a statement.
Reuters told sources last month that Walker, a company veteran that joined the group in 1995, was likely to succeed Schierenbeck.
Thyssenkrupp is also close to unveiling the leadership of its planned European steel joint venture with Tata Steel <TISC.NS>, with Thyssenkrupp’s current steel CEO in line to lead the combined entity.
($1 = 0.8811 euros)
(Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Thomas Seythal/Mark Potter/Susan Fenton)