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Thyssenkrupp to propose Merz as chairwoman as year of turmoil ends



FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE) will propose as chairwoman Martina Merz, whose background includes roles at Volvo (VOLVb.ST), Bosch [ROBG.UL] and Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), the German company said, as it prepares to spin off its capital goods units.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Thyssenkrupp AG is pictured at the company’s headquarters in Essen, Germany, November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

Appointed to its supervisory board last month, Merz, 55, is expected to be confirmed as a member at a shareholder meeting on Feb. 1, Thyssenkrupp said. Once confirmed, she will be proposed as the board’s chairwoman.

The move caps a landmark year for the group, which included a deal to merge its steel unit with a rival, the resignation of both its chief executive and chairman, and a plan to split the steel-to-elevators company in two.

A former chief executive of Dutch firm Chassis Brakes International, Merz is currently chairwoman of automotive supplier SAF Holland (SFQN.DE) and sits on the supervisory board of Lufthansa.

Having served nearly 25 years in various position at car supplier Bosch, Merz is also a member of the board of directors of truck maker Volvo, Belgium’s NV Bekaert SA (BEKB.BR) and French roofing business Imerys SA (IMTP.PA).

She will replace Bernhard Pellens, who has served as supervisory board chairman since September following the resignation of Ulrich Lehner, who stepped down in July amid growing shareholder unrest over the group’s strategy.

The plan to make Merz chairwoman is the latest in a raft of recent key management announcements at the company. She would be the first woman to take the post.

Apart from Merz’s planned appointment, which was previously flagged by Reuters, Thyssenkrupp will also appoint former Evonik (EVKn.DE) finance chief Wolfgang Colberg to its supervisory board, filling the committee’s last vacant seat.

Colberg, who became an industrial partner at buyout group CVC Capital Partners [CVC.UL] in 2013 after helping to list Evonik as its chief financial officer, also needs to be approved at Thyssenkrupp’s shareholder meeting.

“I am delighted that in Wolfgang Colberg we have recruited a recognized financial expert with industrial experience for the supervisory board,” Pellens said in a statement.

“The planned separation of the company will also result in a large number of tasks for the Supervisory Board. With Martina Merz and Wolfgang Colberg, the board now once again has a full complement of members and the required expertise.”

Pellens said he would refocus on his duties as chairman of the supervisory board’s audit committee.

Editing by Tassilo Hummel, Maria Sheahan and Jan Harvey