The supervisory board of German steel major Thyssenkrupp AG today accepted the resignation of its chief executive Heinrich Hiesinger in “mutual agreement” and reiterated its backing for a merger with Tata Steel Ltd.
In a statement after a board meeting today, chairman of the supervisory board of Thyssenkrupp Ulrich Lehner said the company remained committed to the Indian joint venture, which is set to create Europe's second-largest steel-maker after Lakshmi N Mittal’s Arcelor Mittal. “In this tough situation for the company it is now initially about staying on course. This includes the realisation of the steel joint venture. For this we reached an important milestone with the signing,” said Lehner.
Hiesinger made the shock announcement about his exit yesterday. It came just days after he joined Tata Steel Chairman N Chandrasekaran at a joint press conference in Brussels to welcome a “new steel champion in Europe” after agreeing terms on a joint venture.
Lehner praised Hiesinger’s leadership of the German steel giant over the last seven years. “He kept the company from its demise and changed it sustainably. During his time, he created the basis for Thyssenkrupp to exist as a strong industrial company in accordance with the principles of the foundation.”
The company's Supervisory Board has asked the Board – comprising Guido Kerkhoff, Oliver Burkhard and Donatus Kaufmann – to lead without a Chief Executive Officer for the time being as the successor for Hiesinger will be appointed following a "structured process".
Hiesinger was instrumental in negotiating the partnership with Tata Steel for which talks went on for nearly two years. The merger has been widely welcomed by workers’ unions in Britain as the best solution to ensure the long-term future of Tata Steel’s UK operations.