SKF Appoints Finance Chief to Lead Cost-Cutting at Bearing Maker

SKF AB, the world’s largest maker of bearings, said Henrik Lange will become chief financial officer two months after it announced a cost-cutting program targeting annual savings of 3 billion kronor ($469 million).

Lange, a 25-year veteran at the company, is currently president of an industrial market unit and will take up his new position May 1, Gothenburg, Sweden-based SKF said today in a statement. CFO Tore Bertilsson will retire after almost 24 years at SKF.

The company said Jan. 14 it will eliminate 2,500 jobs and transfer production from western Europe to faster-growing markets in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America in a cost-savings plan that runs through 2015. The program follows financial targets set by SKF in October 2010, including an operating margin of 15 percent.

“Lange’s biggest challenge will be to succeed in reaching all the way with the cost cuts,” David Jacobsson, a Stockholm-based analyst at Pareto Ohman, said by phone. “He also needs to reach the desired effects on the margin.”

SKF reported fourth-quarter net income of 983 million kronor on Jan. 30, which beat analyst’ estimates. Chief Executive Officer Tom Johnstone said at the time that demand was expected to be relatively unchanged in the first quarter, compared with the last three months of 2012. The operating margin was 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter and 11.4 percent for the full year.

Lange joined SKF in 1988 as controller and has held that post in various units, spokeswoman Rebecca Ehlinger-Janzon said today by phone. He has also headed SKF Poland and SKF Austria. Lange became president for SKF’s Industrial division in 2005 and has held his current job since January last year.

“As always, coming into a new role, I hope to bring in a new perspective,” Lange said by e-mail.

Rakesh Makhija will replace Lange as head of Industrial Market, Strategic Industries.

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