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Sulzer Proposes Ex-Siemens Chief Peter Loescher as Chairman

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Sulzer AG, the Swiss pumpmaker, proposed former Siemens AG Chief Executive Peter Loescher as chairman to cement largest shareholder Viktor Vekselberg’s control over the company.

Loescher, who two days ago was named head of Renova Management AG, Russian billionaire Vekselberg’s industrial holding company, will fill a vacuum left by the departure of independent Chairman Manfred Wennemer if he is elected by shareholders at Sulzer’s next AGM on March 20.

The appointment of Loescher deepens Vekselberg’s control over the Swiss company amid the sale of Sulzer’s Metco coating unit to OC Oerlikon AG, where he is also the largest shareholder. Oerlikon agreed to buy the division, which makes coatings for machinery and airplane engines in a deal valued at 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion) on Jan. 31.

Loescher, who left Siemens after missing profit goals, is joined on the board of Zurich-based Renova Management by former Deutsche Bank AG CEO Josef Ackerman, Renova said in a statement Feb. 18.

Sulzer, based in Winterthur, today reported full-year sales of 3.96 billion francs, compared with an average estimate of 4.02 billion from analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Earnings before interest and taxes totaled 345.6 million, ahead of analyst predictions. Sulzer proposed a dividend of 3.20 francs per share.

The company forecast slight growth for order intake and sales in 2014, and flagged possible further restructuring measures, depending on market developments and capacity utilisation.

Vekselberg, whose $15 billion fortune makes him the world’s 62nd richest person according to the Bloomberg Billionaires list, controls about 46 percent of OC Oerlikon Corp., a Swiss maker of textile machinery, and 31 percent of Swiss pumpmaker Sulzer AG, through Renova Group, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s also the largest shareholder in Swiss steelmaker Schmolz + Bickenbach AG together with the company’s founding family.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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