Brudermüller to Succeed Bock as BASF Chief
BASF is reshuffling its top management well ahead of its usual succession timetable, with Kurt Bock to relinquish his position as chairman of the managing board, or CEO – three years before his contract ends – following the annual general meeting (agm) on May 4, 2018.
The 59-year-old chief executive, who has been in the job since 2011, will be succeeded by the three years younger Martin Brudermüller, currently vice chairman (deputy CEO) of the Ludwigshafen, Germany-based chemical giant’s managing board.
Following the statutory two-year waiting period for German company chief executives moving to the supervisory board, Bock will be proposed for election as chairman of that board in 2020, when the term of the current chair, Jürgen Hambrecht – his predecessor as managing board chair – ends.
The unusual move is being seen as a strategic plan by BASF to avoid having to extend the 71-year-old Hambrecht’s term or find another manager to fill his position in the interim. This was the case shortly after then recently enacted regulation blocked Hambrecht’s path to the supervisory board in 2011. The term of board chair, Eggert Voscherau, was extended to fill the time gap.
Commenting on the just announced transition, Hambrecht said: “During the past seven years, Kurt Bock has successfully shaped the company and developed it further. We have asked him to stand for election to the Supervisory Board in 2020, so that the company can continue to benefit from his expertise and experience. With Martin Brudermüller we have again named a very competent and experienced successor from within the company.”
Among other changes at the top, Hans-Ulrich Engel, 58, has been named vice chairman of the managing board to take Brudermüller’s current job. At the same time, the appointments of Brudermüller, Engel and Sanjeev Gandhi, 51, to the managing board have even extended by five years until the 2023 agm. In the course of the changes, the number of Board members will be reduced from eight to seven from next May.
In addition to his responsibilities as vice chairman, Brudermüller, who has been on the BASF managing board since 2006, is chief technology officer. During this time, he was among also responsible for BASF’s Asia-Pacific region and based in Hong Kong. Engel became a member of the managing board in 2008, with responsibility for the region North America. Since 2011, he has also been chief financial officer and will retain that position.
Coincidentally, Brudermüller’s appointment as BASF’s chief executive restores the dominance of chemistry graduates at the company’s helm. Bock, an economist who also served a stint on the managing board as chief financial officer before rising to chairman, was only the fourth non-chemist to head the company in its more than 150-year history. Brudermüller, a native of Stuttgart, Germany, studied chemistry at the University of Karlsruhe. He also did post-doctorate studies at the University of California Berkley in the US.