Christian Kullman Named to Head Evonik

02.03.2017 -

Christian Kullmann will become chairman of the managing board of German chemical producer Evonik and chief executive officer following the company’s annual shareholders meeting on May 23. The 47-year-old executive who has worked for the company for 14 years was appointed deputy chairman of the executive board in May 2016 with responsibilities for strategy, M&A, Legal, Communications and Investor Relations. He will replace Klaus Engel in the top spot.

Engel is leaving Evonik after a 10-year career, a year before his contract was due to end. In 2007, the 60-year old joined the company then known as Degussa and was named to head the managing board two years later. His more than 30-year career in the German chemical industry began at Hüls in 1984 and included stations at distributor Brenntag, where he served as CEO, along with a managing board position at energy group RAG.

Supervisory board chair, Werner Müller, said Engel “has transformed Evonik from a conglomerate to a company focused on chemicals, successfully listed it on the stock market and developed it into a leading specialty chemicals company with outstanding prospects.”

Müller pointed in particular to the acquisition of the Air Products specialty additives business announced in May 2016.  Past reports said Evonik had eyed acquisitions of both Clariant and Bayer MaterialScience with neither proposed deal coming to fruition.

New deputy chairman of the Evonik managing board from Sept. 1 will be Harald Schwager. The 56-year-old chemist, currently a member of the managing board at BASF, will terminate his contract early and leave the Ludwigshafen group on May 1. At Evonik, he will have responsibility for chemicals and innovation.

The Essen-based chemical producer said Ralph Sven Kaufmann, currently chief operating officer, will leave Evonik by “mutual and amicable agreement” at the end of June, before expiration of his term of office.  Müller said Kaufmann “successfully supported the transition of the newly established segments to independent operating units” and in addition “played a key role in the restructuring of the Performance Materials segment and the integration of the new Air Products business.”

The COO position will not be filled, Evonik said.