Roland Koch named CEO of Bilfinger Berger

Former Hessian state premier Roland Koch was named the new chairman of German construction giant Bilfinger Berger on Friday amid accusations that he may have given the company special treatment during his time in office.

Roland Koch named CEO of Bilfinger Berger
Photo: DPA

The 52-year-old will assume his new position on March 1, 2011, replacing Herbert Bodner, who will retire after 12 years of service, the company announced in Mannheim.

“The proven leadership power of Roland Koch is the best qualification to push forward the successful development and good future of Bilfinger Berger,” said supervisory board chairman Bernhard Walter.

In May, Koch made the surprise decision to leave politics, stepping down from his position in August after 11 years as the premier of Hesse.

In response to accusations that the transition may have been tainted by special favours to the company, Koch said: “I believe that in Germany we regrettably have little tendency to switch between business and politics. I believe that both sides suffer.”

The former conservative state premier also insured that during his time in office he had “not once had anything to do with decisions made for or against the company Bilfinger Berger.”

Hessian Green party members had said the move had a “whiff of impropriety” to it, recalling that while in office Bilfinger Berger had been involved in major work at the Frankfurt airport pushed through by the former premier.


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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.