Merkel calls for Siemens' return to 'calm waters'

DAVID McHUGH
July 29, 2013
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FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2012 file picture CEO of Siemens AG Peter Loescher leaves a press conference in Munich, Germany.German engineering giant Siemens AG says it will be replacing its chief executive, who has drawn the ire of shareholders by failing to meet profit targets. Siemens said in a statement late Saturday July 27, 2013 that its board will meet Wednesday to "decide on the early departure of the president and CEO" Peter Loescher. Siemens is a heavyweight in Germany's engineering industry with interests in high-speed rail, advanced medical technology, robotics and power generation. (AP Photo/dpa,Peter Kneffel,File)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel thinks it's important for Siemens AG to get back to smooth sailing after the German engineering group's announcement that it plans to remove CEO Peter Loescher, a government spokesman said Monday.

"From her point of view, Siemens is a flagship of German business, and so it is important to her that this global company returns to calm waters," spokesman Georg Streiter said, while stressing that removing Loescher was "a company decision."

Munich-based Siemens makes industrial machinery such as power generation and transmission equipment, high-speed trains, and medical diagnostic scanners. It has 370,000 employees, including 56,500 in the United States, and is active in 190 countries.

The company's stock dropped last Thursday after it said it would miss its 2014 goal of 12 percent profit margin, blaming "lower market expectations." On Saturday, Siemens announced its board of directors would decide Wednesday on Loescher's departure and choose another company executive as president and CEO.

News media speculation has focused on chief financial officer Joe Kaeser as the likely replacement.

Company shares traded little changed Monday on the first trading day after Loescher's departure became apparent, up 0.2 percent at 79.86 euros in early afternoon trading in Europe.

Loescher, a company outsider hired in 2007 from drug company Merck & Co., Inc., helped Siemens move past a corruption scandal involving payoffs to win contracts. But the company has lately missed profit targets and has had other slips such as late delivery of trains to Germany's Deutsche Bahn railway and cross-channel railway Eurostar.

The company is worth 70.4 billion euros in market capitalization and had net profit of 4.59 billion euros for its 2011-2012 fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The profit figure was down 27 percent on the previous year. Revenues last year were 78.3 billion euros.

Siemens reports earnings for the latest quarter on Thursday.