Oerlikon Says ABB Executive Brice Koch to Become CEO

OC Oerlikon Corp. (OERL) appointed Brice Koch of ABB Ltd. (ABBN) as its new chief executive officer, ending investor concern over the company’s leadership after former Chief Michael Buscher left abruptly in March.

Koch, a member of ABB’s executive committee since 2010, led the company’s power systems division since 2012 where lower margin engineering, procurement and construction operations have been stripped out.

“We advise investors to add to positions on this positive news,” Patrick Laager, an analyst at Credit Suisse AG in Zurich, wrote in a note to clients. “Today’s announcement is removing a major part of the uncertainty in the investment case which has hindered the stock to outperform the wider sector since the departure of former CEO Michael Buscher back in March.”

Koch will bring industrial experience from ABB to Oerlikon, which was restructured after coming close to bankruptcy in 2009 and is now entering a growth phase. Koch will report to Tim Summers, Oerlikon’s Chairman and delegate of largest shareholder Russian Billionaire Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group.

Buscher decided to leave March 14 after three years at the helm and later became head of German brake-maker Knorr Bremse.

Earlier in his career, Koch, a French citizen, held roles including head of ABB in China and head of Marketing and Customer Solutions. Koch holds a PHD in material science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.

Jurg Fedier, who has been interim CEO since March 14, will resume the role of chief financial offer when Koch joins in the first quarter, Pfaeffikon, Switzerland-based Oerlikon said in a statement today.

ABB said an orderly succession process has been initiated at Power Systems, which Koch will support before leaving. ABB aims to have a permanent successor in place by the end of the first quarter of 2014, it said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Noel in London at anoel@bloomberg.net; Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Noel at anoel@bloomberg.net

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