Lanxess Chairman to step down

Against the backdrop of lower profits, Lanxess Chairman Axel C. Heitmann will resign at the end of February this year. Heitmann's contract was due to expire in 2017.

Heitmann who has led the Cologne-based company since it was spun-off from Bayer in 2004 and who was also instrumental in listing it on Germany's blue-chip Dax index in 2012, is being replaced by Matthias Zachert, former CFO of Lanxess and currently CFO at Merck KGaA, effective not later than 15 May. Until Zachert joins the Board of Management, Lanxess CFO Bernhard Duettmann will perform the responsibilities of the previous Chairman of the Board of Management.

"Heitmann has played a key role in shaping the company since its creation through consistent restructuring and strategic portfolio measures. He has formed Lanxess into a leading global specialty chemicals company, achieving many noticeable successes," said Rolf Stomberg, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

He went on to say that Lanxess is facing significant challenges, in terms of market capacities and business portfolio. "Therefore, the Supervisory Board believes it is the right time to hand over responsibility to a new leadership in order to overcome these challenges," said Stomberg. "Zachert performed excellent work as Chief Financial Officer at Lanxess and has an outstanding reputation among employees as well as in the capital market."

The speciality chemicals firm had sales of EUR9.1 billion in 2012 and roughly 17,500 employees in 31 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide.

Over the past few years, Heitmann has embarked on an ambitious investment strategy and while the stock quadrupled over the first seven years under his leadership, it has fallen by a third over the past one year.

Moreover, as one of the world's largest maker of synthetic rubber over 40% of the company's sales are linked to the automotive and tyre sectors, both of which are facing depressed market situations. Last year, Heitmann announced 1,000 job cuts, potential asset sales and takeovers in the medium term, after the company revised down its profit guidance, after reporting a 95% fall in its second quarter net profit earnings (also see and


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