Schaeffler Appoints Rosenfeld Permanent CEO, Drops Deller

Schaeffler AG said interim Chief Executive Officer Klaus Rosenfeld will keep the top post permanently, dropping the appointment of an outside manager intended to help ties to car-parts affiliate Continental AG.

“The executive board of Schaeffler AG has done an exceptional job over the past months,” Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and Georg Schaeffler, the sole owners of the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based industrial-bearing maker, said today in a statement. “We are convinced that continuity is in the interest of our company.”

Rosenfeld’s elevation comes after a period of upheaval in the company’s executive ranks. He temporarily took on the CEO responsibilities in addition to his chief financial officer post in October after the founding family ousted Juergen Geissinger from the top job. Rosenfeld outlined Schaeffler’s plans in March to widen manufacturing cooperation with Continental, Europe’s second-biggest maker of car parts.

Schaeffler said in February that Klaus Deller, head of commercial-vehicle braking systems at Knorr-Bremse AG, would become CEO. It didn’t specify today why Deller won’t take the job after all, and Christoph Beumelburg, a spokesman at the bearing maker, declined to comment on Deller’s future.

Schaeffler is seeking to reduce debt from an attempt to buy a limited stake in Continental that backfired amid the global recession of 2008. Net debt was 6.4 billion euros at the end of December, down from a figure that at one point exceeded 10 billion euros.

The bearing producer also extended Chief Technology Officer Peter Gutzmer’s contract for a further five years and named him deputy CEO, according to the statement. Rosenfeld’s contract is for a five-year period, it said.

Schaeffler is the biggest shareholder in Hanover, Germany-based Continental, also Europe’s tiremaker, with a 46 percent stake. That compares with 90 percent control after other investors dumped Continental stock during the global credit crunch.

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