Heitmann leaving Lanxess – former CFO filling his shoes

Effective 28 February 2014, Axel C. Heitmann will step down as member and chairman of the Lanxess AG Board of Management. His successor will be Matthias Zachert, who served as chief financial officer at Lanxess between 2004 and 2011 and is currently chief financial officer at Merck KGaA. Zachert will begin his new role at Lanxess not later than 15 May 2014. Prior to Zachert joining the Lanxess Board of Management, current Lanxess chief financial officer Bernhard Düttmann will carry out Heitmann’s responsibilities.

“Mr. 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 of Lanxess AG, in a statement released by Lanxess on 27 January. “The Supervisory Board expresses its sincere gratitude and high regard for Mr. Heitmann, also on behalf of all employees.

“Lanxess is facing significant challenges, for example in terms of market capacities and business portfolio,” Stomberg added. “Therefore, the Supervisory Board believes it is the right time to hand over responsibility to a new leadership in order to overcome these challenges. Mr. Zachert performed excellent work as chief financial officer at Lanxess and has an outstanding reputation among employees as well as in the capital market.”

Beyond mentioning the ‘significant challenges’ Lanxess faces, the official statement does not attempt to explain the reasons behind this parting of ways, and news of Heitmann’s exit comes as a surprise – his current tenure as Board of Management chairman was not due for renewal until mid-2017. However it is rumoured that Heitmann was at odds with Lanxess’ Supervisory Board over how the company should tackle falling revenues; in September 2013 the German firm announced cost-cutting measures to be implemented over the next couple of years, the pursuit of so-called “strategic options for specific non-core businesses” that will reduce the company’s global workforce by around 1,000 people by the end of 2015.

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