Conti CEO: Company Planning to Keep Tyre Unit
Continental’s new chief executive Elmar Degenhart recently told reporters that management board's preference is to “keep our portfolio the way it is today.” Newspapers and wire services have been quick re-report Degenhart’s remarks owing to the company’s previous position that it would consider the sales of the company’s Rubber Group, which includes the tyre business.
Degenhart’s words (spoken in an interview with German automotive industry publication Automobilwoche) follow a string of non-verbal cues that suggest differences of opinions with the company and at major shareholder Schaeffler group. The latest, following Schaeffler repeated failure to include tyres and rubber its plans for a combined Conti/Schaeffler, was the fact that Continental AG apparently had nothing to say about tyres at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
However, Elmar Degenhart’s latest comments suggest the focus of attention is now “intensively on its refinancing” project rather than spinning off the Rubber Group. “We think that our business in 2010 will be above the level of 2009. However, there is no guarantee,” he said, explaining that reduced working hours and lay-offs remain options.
Degenhart, a former head of Schaeffler’s automotive operations, replaced Karl-Thomas Neumann as head of Continetal AG in August.