ABB Chief Executive Steps Down; Peter Voser Named Interim CEO -- Update
--ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer stepped down after more than five
years at the helm
--Board Chairman Peter Vosen will serve as interim CEO
--The Swiss engineering company won't change the new strategy it
unveiled in December
--ABB released its 1Q earnings early and net profit fell 6%,
while revenue and orders rose
By Brian Blackstone
ZURICH--ABB Ltd. (ABBN.EB) Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer
unexpectedly stepped down on Wednesday, ending a more than
five-year run that saw the Swiss engineering giant gear its focus
toward robotics and digital technologies but struggle with a weak
The decision, which was made by ABB's board of directors Tuesday
evening, came four months after the company unveiled in December a
new strategy focusing on four business segments: electrification,
automation, robotics and motion.
It also sold its power grids unit to Hitachi Ltd. (6501.TO) in
December for $6.4 billion. Activist investors had previously
pressed ABB to spin off the unit.
ABB's board chairman Peter Voser will serve as interim CEO until
a replacement is found. ABB shares were up more than 5% at 0800
"We support the strategic direction of ABB, and have full
confidence in Peter Voser and the management team to continue
implementing the transformation of ABB," said Lars Forberg,
co-founder of Cevian Capital, one of the company's key
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Spiesshofer, 55, said he is
handing over a "trimmed ABB ship that is on a clear course and
gaining speed" and that he will take time before deciding on his
next professional step.
In a conference call Wednesday, Mr. Voser described the decision
to part ways with Mr. Spiesshofer as mutual and that it came
following deliberations over who should guide the company through
its next phase. Mr. Voser said the company won't change the
strategy that it unveiled in December.
ABB also released first-quarter earnings ahead of schedule on
Wednesday in order to quell any speculation in markets that the
departure of Mr. Spiesshofer might have been linked to a bad first
Net profit for the period fell 6% to $535 million. ABB said
revenue for the period came to $6.85 billion compared with $6.44
billion the prior year.
Orders for the first quarter rose 3% on a comparable basis to
$7.61 billion, the company said.
The figures were broadly in line with expectations, said
analysts at Vontobel Research.
Anthony Shevlin contributed to this article.
Write to Brian Blackstone at email@example.com.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 17, 2019 05:20 ET (09:20 GMT)
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