Schaeffler Appoints Knorr-Bremse’s Deller as Group Chief

Schaeffler AG appointed an auto-parts industry veteran as chief executive officer as the German industrial-bearing maker works to strengthen cooperation with car-component producer Continental AG.

Klaus Deller, the head of commercial-vehicle braking systems at Knorr-Bremse AG, will become CEO of Schaeffler on July 1, the Herzogenaurach-based company said in a statement today.

Deller, 51, succeeds Klaus Rosenfeld, who temporarily took on CEO responsibilities in addition to his chief financial officer post in October after the founding family ousted Juergen Geissinger from the top job. Schaeffler, jointly owned by Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and her son Georg Schaeffler, is still struggling to reduce debt from an attempt spearheaded by Geissinger to buy a limited stake in Continental that backfired amid the global recession of 2008.

“Klaus Deller is an exceptional leader with substantial experience in the automotive supplier industry,” Georg Schaeffler said in the statement. “Under his leadership, we will be able to further strengthen our position as the technology leader in automotive and industrial applications.”

Continental Holding

Schaeffler is the biggest shareholder in Hanover, Germany-based Continental, Europe’s second-biggest maker of car parts, with a 46 percent stake. It has reduced the holding from a peak of 90 percent control reached when other investors dumped the stock during the global credit crunch. Schaeffler has also scaled back net debt to 5.7 billion euros at the end of September from a figure exceeding 10 billion euros.

The two manufacturers have said they plan to maintain cooperation on some projects.

Rosenfeld, 47, will remain CFO while also becoming deputy CEO of Schaeffler, the bearing maker said today. He will also get a seat on the board of directors of INA-Holding Schaeffler GmbH, which manages the family’s holdings in Continental and Schaeffler.

Schaeffler forecast in November that 2013 earnings before interest and taxes will amount to about 13 percent of sales, excluding currency effects and the cost of reducing production in Schweinfurt and Wuppertal, Germany. The nine-month adjusted-Ebit margin stood at 12.9 percent. The manufacturer is scheduled to report full-year figures on March 20.

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