World News

German shareholder group criticizes Thyssenkrupp’s strategy, ex-CEO payout

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – German investors’ association DSW said on Friday it would not endorse Thyssenkrupp’s <TKAG.DE> supervisory board at the conglomerate’s upcoming annual general meeting, saying group strategy lacked direction.

Thyssenkrupp has issued four profit warnings and two botched restructuring attempts, including plans for a spin-off that was scrapped only eight months later in favor of a listing of the group’s best asset: elevators.

Shareholders usually choose not to endorse management or supervisory board members in a symbolic move to express their frustration over performance. Shares in Thyssenkrupp have fallen more than a quarter over the past 12 months.

“We will not ratify the supervisory board’s actions as we see there is a lack of orientation which has led to expensive personal changes and a strategic zig-zag course,” DSW managing director Marc Tuengler told Reuters.

DSW usually represents about 1% of Thyssenkrupp’s shareholders at the AGM, which is scheduled for Jan. 31.

Tuengler also criticized a 6.5 million euro ($7.21 million) payout to former Chief Executive Guido Kerkhoff, who left the group after just 14 months at the helm.

Thyssenkrupp, which is selling all or part of its profitable elevator business to raise money, abruptly ended Kerkhoff’s tenure as CEO last September by mutual agreement after mounting shareholder pressure over his restructuring efforts.

A Thyssenkrupp spokesman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Susan Fenton)