- Outgoing CEO Rorsted praised by shareholders for stock gain
- Investors want higher dividend from CEO-designate Van Bylen
Henkel AG investors, bidding farewell to outgoing Chief Executive Officer Kasper Rorsted at his last annual meeting, laid a list of demands at the feet of successor Hans Van Bylen that include a higher share price and dividend payments.
Shareholders want the stock to rise to and stay above 100 euros ($114) each, a price last seen on a closing basis on Dec. 30, Jella Benner-Heinacher, deputy head of Germany’s largest association for private investors, DSW, said on Monday at the meeting in Dusseldorf, where Henkel is based. The shareholder also wants a dividend of 1.60 euros a preferred share this year, compared with the 1.45 euros paid by the maker of Loctite glue and Schwarzkopf shampoo in 2015.
Rorsted will be a hard act to follow, according to almost all of the speakers at Monday’s meeting, who praised the departing CEO. Rorsted is leaving to take the helm of sportswear and equipment company Adidas AG at the end of this month after more than tripling Henkel’s share price during his eight-year reign and boosting net income by 57 percent. Van Bylen takes over on May 1.
“The shoes, that you have presented to your successor to fill, are enormously big,” said Hans-Martin Buhlmann, chairman of the Association of Institutional Shareholders. “I hope, Mr. Van Bylen, that they fit.”
Henkel preferred shares gained 0.3 percent to 98.77 euros as of 4:26 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has lost 4.3 percent this year, cutting the market value to 40.4 billion euros.
Before his departure, Rorsted retreated from a 2016 revenue goal of 20 million euros. Henkel is facing currency headwinds, particularly in emerging markets, the CEO said in a statement on Monday.
Rorsted impressed investors by taking responsibility for the missed sales goal rather than leaving his successor to take the blame, Benner-Heinacher said.
“From a shareholder point of view all is well on the Henkel ship,” she said. “While the captain is stepping down, today with a beard, he is leaving orderly conditions. Time to say goodbye.”