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Hochtief Gets Spanish Leader as ACS Solidifies Power at Builder

Hochtief AG said Marcelino Fernandez Verdes will become chief executive officer, as Spanish owner Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA solidifies control over Germany’s biggest construction company.

Verdes will succeed Frank Stieler with immediate effect, the companies said in a statement today. Thomas Eichelmann was named chairman to replace Manfred Wennemer, who will leave at the end of the year for personal reasons, Hochtief said.

Stieler’s abrupt departure follows an acrimonious takeover battle last year that resulted in a loss of independence at the hands of Hochtief’s largest shareholder, a maneuver that had caught management off guard. Stieler’s predecessor, Herbert Luetkestratkoetter, resigned shortly after ACS took control after fighting for months to avert the takeover.

“My priority for the years to come is to improve the profitability and to continue the sustainable growth of Hochtief,” Fernandez Verdes said in the statement.

The Spanish company has focused on expanding abroad to counter a contracting domestic market. A break-up of the business isn’t being considered, the company said. The new management team will take 3 to 4 months to develop a strategy, it added,

Hochtief rose as much as 2.5 percent today in Frankfurt and closed at 38.62 euros, valuing the business at 2.97 billion euros.

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