Lufthansa Board Names Mayrhuber as Chairman After Back and Forth

Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s supervisory board named Wolfgang Mayrhuber its new chairman, following two days of toing and froing on his nomination after investors had criticized the former chief executive officer’s candidacy.

Mayrhuber, an Austrian national who had been Lufthansa chief executive officer until 2010, was appointed after the airline’s annual general meeting in Cologne today, according to a release. Karl-Ludwig Kley, the CEO of drugmaker Merck KGaA and Lufthansa CFO from 1998 to 2006, will also join the panel, the carrier said. The appointments are for a five-year period.

The election follows a dispute with institutional investors, who had urged Mayrhuber not to consider the post to give his successor at the helm, Christoph Franz, more freedom to implement his turnaround plan. Mayrhuber initially pulled his candidacy yesterday, only to renew his interest 12 hours later, with the board backing his aspirations.

A voluntary code of conduct now requires CEOs wait two years before they ascend to the supervisory panel, and caps the number of permitted mandates. Investors had criticized Mayrhuber’s nomination, saying parts of his strategy as CEO failed and complaining he already held too many similar posts.

Leadership of companies in Germany is divided into an executive board overseen by the CEO, and a supervisory board led by a chairman. The supervisory board is split halfway between managers representing the capital side and delegates from trade unions and works councils who voice workers’ demands. Christine Behle, a union representative, was chosen as Mayrhuber’s deputy.

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