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The Lord Alps Those: ABB, Zurich Financial Bring in New CFOs

Both Swiss companies in the throes of a management shakeup. Also: Former Citibanker named CFO at Emergent.
Lisa YoonDecember 11, 2001
  • Swiss-Swedish industrial-engineering group ABB appointed Peter Voser CFO. Currently finance chief at oil giant Shell Worldwide Oil Products, Voser will join ABB early in the second quarter of 2002. He replaces Renato Fassbind, who is leaving to become chief executive of Swiss international trade group Diethelm Keller Holding.

    In a statement, ABB CEO Joergen Centerman said Voser “will play an important role as we continue to address the important issues related to increasing the transparency of ABB.” Former CFO Fassbind had come in for some criticism for his lack of openness with Wall Street, which some analysts claimed made it difficult to assess ABB’s performance.

    The change comes after the company’s longtime chairman, Percy Barnevik, resigned last month. At the time Barnevik said he was leaving, in part, because of the company’s recent poor performance. That poor performance manifested itself in the form of a 10 percent decline in profits compared with last year, and a plan to cut 12,000 of the company’s 160,000 jobs.

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    In the same announcement ABB executives said the company was selling its air-and-climate-technology business to Global Air Movement of Luxembourg for $225 million. The sale is part of the company’s new strategy of focusing on power and automation-technology products, systems, and solutions for utilities and industrial customers.

    Meanwhile, ABB’s share price took a hit on asbestos liability fears, falling more than 8 percent, to 17.30 euros. On Friday the share price of U.S. rival Halliburton fell 40 percent — to around $12 — after that company reported heavy asbestos-related liability.

  • Executives at Swiss insurance giant Zurich Financial Services Group announced an overhaul of its top management, including the replacement of German-born CFO Guenther Gose. Gose is set to retire in the middle of 2002. Thomas Buess, CFO of Zurich North America Corporate, will take over as the group’s CFO.

    Zurich is approaching the end of a shakeup which saw it sell its U.S. funds arm Zurich Scudder Investments to Deutsche Bank AG in a $2.5 billion deal. The company also floated one of its reinsurers, Converium, on the Zurich and New York markets.

  • Management at Boulder, Colorado-based Emergent Financial Group announced that Max Lucas was named CFO. Lucas was also made a director on the company’s board.

    Lucas joins the financial-services holding company from Citigroup, where he was CFO of Citibank Credit Services. Before his eight years at Citibank, Lucas was controller and senior vice president at First Chicago, now a part of Bank One.

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