ThyssenKrupp AG Honorary Chairman Berthold Beitz is the main culprit for the steelmaker’s “decades-long decline,” according to a nephew of the company’s former owner Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach.
Beitz, the 99-year old head of the foundation that holds 25.3 percent of ThyssenKrupp shares, “has failed” to fulfill the late Krupp’s will to keep the company intact and expand it, Friedrich von Bohlen und Halbach said yesterday in a phone interview.
“If anybody is responsible for the negative development of the company, it’s Berthold Beitz,” von Bohlen und Halbach said. The honorary chairman is to blame for the “decades-long decline of the company, and in particular for its current sorry state.”
ThyssenKrupp on March 8 said that Chairman Gerhard Cromme, whom Beitz handpicked more than 27 years ago for a key role at the steelmaker, will step down as chairman at the end of the month. Chief Executive Officer Heinrich Hiesinger is seeking to repair the damage from price-fixing and bribery scandals and a botched expansion in the Americas that cost ThyssenKrupp 3.6 billion euros ($4.7 billion) in writedowns last fiscal year.
Hiesinger plans to “review all aspects of the relationship between foundation and company and reorganize them if necessary,” ThyssenKrupp spokesman Kilian Roetzer said yesterday in an e-mail. Bohlen und Halbach, whose comments were first reported by Focus magazine yesterday, said he had not spoken with Hiesinger about potential changes.
Beitz agreed to part with Cromme “to protect himself,” von Bohlen und Halbach said. Beitz wanted to show “who has got the last say in the company,” he said.
In an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday, Beitz said he will lead the foundation “as long as I’ve got a clear head.” Representatives at the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation said no spokesmen were immediately available for comment when contacted by Bloomberg News yesterday, outside of normal business hours.