Mannesmann: The Right Call?

It's making a big telecom bet

Few German companies have transformed themselves as much with so little fanfare as the engineering conglomerate Mannesmann. In the past three years, Mannesmann has quietly divested 39 businesses with sales of $4.2 billion. It has moved aggressively into telecommunications, which now accounts for two-thirds of its profits. Unlike giants such as Siemens and Hoechst, which have trumpeted their restructuring plans, "we decided to work without big announcements," says Chief Financial Officer Klaus Esser, who will become CEO in May. "This gives us more flexibility and keeps critics off our backs."

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