Thyssenkrupp CEO Kerkhoff to leave, chairwoman Merz to take over

Credit: REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

No reason given for talks over Kerkhoff contract termination

Chairwoman Merz proposed as interim CEO

Russwurm proposed as interim chairman

Recasts, adds company details

FRANKFURT, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp AG TKAG.DE said on Tuesday it will start talks soon to end the contract of current Chief Executive Guido Kerkhoff, whose brief tenure at the submarines-to-car-parts conglomerate included four profit warnings and two failed restructuring efforts.

Thyssenkrupp did not elaborate on the decision, but said it would propose current Supervisory Board Chairwoman Martina Merz, who has been in the job since February, as interim CEO for no longer than a year.

If Merz is elected interim CEO by the supervisory board, fellow board member and former Siemens AG SIEGn.DE manager Siegfried Russwurm will take over her duties as chairman on an interim basis, Thyssenkrupp said.

Kerkhoff, who joined Thyssenkrupp as finance chief in 2011, took over as CEO in July 2018 following tumultuous weeks in which the conglomerate's former CEO and chairman departed due to mounting shareholder criticism.

Under Kerkhoff's watch Thyssenkrupp issued four profit warnings and scrapped plans for a spinoff of its capital goods businesses as well as a planned joint venture with India's Tata Steel TISC.NS.

Thyssenkrupp said it would also recommend that Klaus Keysberg, currently head of the group's Materials Services business area, join its management board.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)

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