Hochtief CEO steps down

Herbert Lütkestratkötter is retiring and will leave the company on May 12. His successor, Frank Stieler, has the blessing of major Hochtief shareholder ACS, which already owns more than 40% of the German company ahead of an eventual takeover.

Herbert Lütkestratkötter, chief executive of German infrastructure group Hochtief, is retiring as from the end of Hochtief’s general shareholders meeting on May 12, the company announced yesterday.

Lütkestratkötter is leaving on a high after having delivered Hochtief’s best ever financial results for the 2010 fiscal year. His departure is “by mutually amicable agreement”, Hochtief said, adding that Lütkestratkötter will continue serving Hochtief as an adviser to the firm’s executive board.

The departing chief executive will be replaced by Frank Stieler, the head of Hochtief Europe, where he has been responsible for €3.3 billion in sales and the management of 16,000 employees, Hochtief said. Prior to joining Hochtief, Stieler, a lawyer by training, was the chief executive of Siemens’ Oil & Gas division.

Spanish infrastructure group ACS, Hochtief’s major shareholder with over 40 percent of the German company’s shares, has already given its blessing to Stieler’s appointment:

“With Frank Stieler, the supervisory board has found an excellent candidate to lead Hochtief in the future and we welcome this decision. His appointment will guarantee a seamless transition. Mr. Stieler has already strongly contributed to the success of the company. He has our full support and confidence,” an ACS spokeswoman said.

Lütkestratkötter’s resignation is not surprising given that he did his best to fend off ACS’ takeover of Hochtief, which he dubbed “unsolicited” and of “no value to Hochtief shareholders”.

He is also not the first high-profile executive to resign from the German firm recently. Peter Noe, a member of Hochtief’s executive board and head of its concessions and Asia units, resigned from the firm last month, although he will officially step down from his role on September 10.

ACS is continuing its takeover of Hochtief, aiming to acquire majority control of the German company by May. This will allow for full financial consolidation of Hochtief, help ACS to cut its debt and increase its geographical exposure, moving the firm away from the troubled Spanish market.