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Nikolai Setzer Should Lead Conti Through Double Crisis | Free Press

Hannover (dpa) – Nikolai Setzer is the new CEO of Continental. A self-made man with 23 years of experience in the group is replacing Elmar Degenhart, who had announced his early departure from the top of the Dax company.

As Conti announced Thursday after a supervisory board meeting, Setzer will take over from his latest somewhat unfortunate predecessor in early December. The inspectors appointed him until March 2024, he should keep the position as head of the main division of automotive suppliers.

Setzer joined the Hanoverians in 1997. The industrial engineer is considered to be well connected internally and was already seen as a promising candidate for Degenhart’s successor. Managing the largest automotive supplier after Bosch is a tall order: in addition to switching from mechanical and hydraulic to electric mobility and software, which is expensive and could cost a lot of jobs, the entire industry is grappling with falling manufacturers’ sales. of automobiles in the crisis of Corona.

Degenhart’s contract would actually have been extended until August 2024. However, in late October, the former manager of Conti’s main shareholder, Schaeffler, gave health reasons for his retirement. In recent months, the works council, unions and politicians have criticized the management. On the other hand, the owners asked for an even more determined austerity course.

Group Works Council Chairman Hasan Allak and Vice Chairman Lorenz Pfau wish Setzer all the best. However, they also made it clear: “The squad expect him and his management team to have a solid strategy with reliable prospects for Germany as well.”

At Conti, as part of the “Transformation 2019-2029” program, at least 30,000 jobs will be relocated, canceled or converted for new qualifications, including 13,000 in Germany. From an executive floor point of view, this cannot be done without floor closures. At the same time, new jobs are being created in promising areas. However, the cuts that were decided specifically for the profitable tire division overall caused deep uncertainty among the workforce.

The end of production at the Aachen plant with 1,800 employees came only through the supervisory board, because the capital side overruled the employee side. Other locations will also be reduced, rebuilt, or closed entirely. The IG BCE union initiated an initiative for a neutral mediator to mediate future stalemate situations in large-scale decisions.

The works council head, Allak, had also attacked the board due to a lack of agreement. In the current situation, “no experiments” are desirable, which to some observers already indicated that Setzer was appointed. The new one at the top is described as assertive but also communicative. “The transformation that has begun will only work with the consensus of all those involved and not with decisions in the Enough format,” Allak emphasized. After the dispute over the closures, the unions and management agreed on a new attempt to secure as many jobs as possible.

The Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Wolfgang Reitzle, spoke in favor of continuity. On Thursday he stressed: “Nikolai Setzer enjoys our full confidence. He will continue to drive this change and successfully shape it. “At the same time, the chief inspector paid tribute to Degenhart for his” exemplary leadership behavior and great contribution to Continental’s long-standing track record. “

Setzer reached out to employees, but also made his focus on profit goals clear: “Together with executives and employees around the world, it is my most urgent task to continue our growth course, which is geared towards lasting profitability. , without interruptions”.

After working in development and sales, Setzer gained management experience in the core tire business. In 2009 he became a member of the auto tire board of directors, later for the whole area; He also dealt with new technologies such as sensors or automatic profile measurement. From May 2015 to March 2019 he was also responsible for the Group’s acquisitions. Later, Setzer took over the auto business.

Business in Conti is better again after the fall of Corona in the spring. But structural change and bleak prospects for global auto production keep the group under pressure. In the third quarter, the bottom line was just under € 720 million. In ongoing operations, however, Conti reported a clear easing of the situation compared to the second quarter of the year: the deficit before interest, taxes and extraordinary items of 634 million euros was transformed into an adjusted profit of 832 million euros .