Heidelberg unveils new CEO and board changes

By Darryl Danielli, Friday 28 October 2016

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Heidelberg has named its new chief executive, a newcomer to the German press manufacturer, and rejigged its management board following the departure of one of its directors.

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Hundsdörfer: We need to make solid use of the opportunities

Rainer Hundsdörfer will replace Gerold Linzbach as chief executive on 14 November. Heidelberg announced in July that Linzbach had decided not extend his contract and would leave the business by August 2017, when his current contract expired.

Although a newcomer to print, Hundsdörfer is a seasoned manufacturing business leader; having previously been chief executive of wood processing equipment manufacturer Weinig and, most recently, chairman of €1.6bn-turnover (£1.4bn) fan and motor manufacturer EBM-Papst. Prior to joining EBM-Papst he was chairman of the industry division and member of the executive board at €13bn-turnover industrial engineering group Schaeffler.

“Heidelberg is moving toward customer-focused technology and services in what is a changed market environment,” said Hundsdörfer, in the company statement. “We now need to make solid use of the opportunities digitisation presents for profitable growth.”

While Linzbach’s contract doesn’t expire until next summer, PrintWeek understands that he will leave the business shortly after Hundsdörfer joins.

In the statement, Siegfried Jaschinski, chairman of the Heidelberg supervisory board, thanked Linzbach for “successfully turning around the company” and welcomed Hundsdörfer who he said would “drive forward the reorientation of the company” and “help pave the way forward to a successful digital future at Heidelberg”.

His sentiments were echoed by Heidelberg UK managing director Gerard Heanue: “Linzbach was brought on board to restructure the organisation and he did an excellent job on that and getting it refocused, but now we need someone to drive the sales and profitability growth further, and that’s what he [Hundsdörfer] will no doubt do.”

While the appointment of a new chief executive was expected, the company also revealed that Harald Weimer, management board member responsible for Heidelberg Services, will leave the business at the end of March. He will be replaced on the management board by Ulrich Hermann, who also joins the business on 14 November.

However, Hermann will not take on Weimer’s Heidelberg Services role, instead his focus will be on Heidelberg’s “ongoing digital transformation”. Most recently he was chief executive of €4.2bn-turnover information services and publishing group Wolters Kluwer's German operation.

According to a Heidelberg spokesman he is an “expert in changing business models into the digital world” and will help the business realise the opportunities of digitisation beyond simply digital printing.

While the appointment of a new CEO had been in the offing for some time, the departure of Weimer was described as a “bit of a shock” by Heidelberg insiders.

Weimer has been with Heidelberg for 18 years, during which time he variously headed the business in Mexico, the US and then the US and Americas, before being appointed to the management board in 2014 to head up services.

Weimer was also part of the triumvirate, which was headed by chief financial officer Dirk Kaliebe and also included board member for Equipment Stephan Plenz, that temporarily took charge when Linzbach stepped down from the business for six months due to ill health.

There had been speculation that Kaliebe, Plenz and Weimer had put themselves forward to run the business on a permanent basis. However, the supervisory board was understood to have set its sights on an external candidate fairly early on.

According to the Heidelberg spokesman, following the appointment of Hundsdörfer and Hermann the breakdown of the responsibilities of the management board, including those for Heidelberg Services, will be rejigged in the coming months.

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