Düsseldorf-headquartered METRO GROUP is facing a change at the helm of its Supervisory Board: the three largest shareholders of the company, Haniel, Schmidt-Ruthenbeck and Beisheim, as well as the current Supervisory Board of METRO AG are backing the succession plan of Supervisory Board Chairman Franz Markus Haniel, who decided to step down from his office after the next Annual General Meeting in February 2016. Jürgen Steinemann, currently CEO of Barry Callebaut, shall be proposed as his successor. Steinemann is to join the METRO AG Supervisory Board already in September 2015 since Dr. Wulf H. Bernotat decided to resign from his office as a Supervisory Board member.
The reappointment of the Supervisory Board Chairman is to be seen against the backdrop of Haniel's stake reduction and the termination of the so-called pool agreement between shareholders Haniel and Schmidt-Ruthenbeck in October 2014. Under this agreement, both owner families had originally pooled their voting rights but then separated them again with the aim of simplifying and unbundling the holding structures. "Following the stake reduction and the termination of the pool agreement, I would like to open up the opportunity for putting the chair of the Supervisory Board into the hands of an independent, external representative", said Franz Markus Haniel. "With Mr. Steinemann, we have found a highly competent and successful personality who will actively support the Management Board of METRO AG on the Supervisory Board and who can provide valuable impulses based on his vast experience".
The Haniel Group will continue to be represented on the Supervisory Board of METRO AG by Dr. Florian Funck, CFO of Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH. "The history of Metro and Haniel has been closely intertwined for more than 50 years and nothing will change in this respect in the future", said Haniel. "As a member of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Funck will continue to intensively work towards a successful further development of METRO GROUP together with the Management Board. In the same way, the Haniel Group will continue to be a shareholder of METRO AG also in the long-term perspective and thereby participate in the company's success."
Franz Haniel & Cie., in addition to Schmidt-Ruthenbeck and Beisheim, belong to the group of co-founders of Metro. The family equity company with head office in Duisburg has gradually reduced its roughly 34 per cent stake in the Düsseldorf-based retailing group and plans to further bring down its shareholding in the company to around 20 per cent until 2020 within the scope of an exchangeable bond. "At this size, the Metro stake will then have an appropriate weighting in the portfolio of Franz Haniel & Cie.", said Haniel.
Haniel has served as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of METRO AG since April 2012 and already held this office before from 2007 to 2010. He plans to resign from the Supervisory Board with effect from the close of the Annual General Meeting of METRO AG in February 2016 and at the same time propose Steinemann as his successor. "Jürgen Steinemann has an impressive track record of 25 years in management positions at the key interfaces between manufacturers, suppliers and retailers worldwide", said Haniel. "His sound international experience and entrepreneurial spirit will greatly benefit the Supervisory Board of METRO AG."
Steinemann has been serving as CEO of Barry Callebaut, the world's largest producer of chocolate and cocoa products based in Zurich, since 2009. He will retire from this function in late September 2015 as scheduled, but will remain associated with the company in the function of Vice Chairman of the Board. The 56 year-old manager is also non-executive member of the Board of Directors of Lonza Group AG, Switzerland. Before joining Barry Callebaut, Steinemann served in various management positions at Nutreco, Unilever and Eridania Béghin-Say.
Upon his court appointment, Steinemann shall succeed Bernotat, who has served on the Supervisory Board of METRO AG since 2003. "We thank Dr. Bernotat for his many years of dedicated and successful work on the Board", said Haniel. "During his term of office he has accompanied and contributed to shaping significant changes at METRO GROUP. He was at all times a trustful advisor to the Management Board. The Supervisory Board and Management Board of METRO AG have greatly benefitted from his excellent management expertise".
METRO AG will apply for a court appointment of Mr. Steinemann limited until the close of the Annual General Meeting on 19 February 2016. The vote of the Annual General Meeting will then decide about his further membership on the Supervisory Board of METRO AG.