Lufthansa ex-CEO lands top job despite wrangle

Former Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber was elected chairman of the airline's supervisory board on Tuesday evening - just 24 hours after he said he would not be standing for the post.

Lufthansa ex-CEO lands top job despite wrangle
Photo: DPA

In a last minute change-of-heart on Monday evening, Mayrhuber said he had secured the support of important investors and would be standing after all.

The 66-year-old who stepped down as Lufthansa’s CEO in 2010, had been nominated to take over from Jürgen Weber, but on Monday afternoon briefly said he had decided not to stand.

Influential US consultant firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), had initially advised its customers – who between them hold around 36 percent of Lufthansa’s shares – to vote against the former CEO at Tuesday’s meeting.

ISS said Mayrhuber – who is also on the supervisory boards of BMW, Munich Re insurance company and Infineon semiconductor producer – had too much else on his plate.

At the same time, wrote Der Spiegel magazine on Wednesday, Lufthansa couldn’t risk open conflict with ISS – a highly influential company, which advises 1,700 institutional investors, notably hedge and investment funds in the US.

But, presumably after a series of hectic phone calls, Lufthansa managed to convince ISS to back Mayrhuber if he stepped down from one or several of the other supervisory boards, said the magazine.

The reversal came late on Monday evening – just in time to install the former CEO with 63.2 percent of the vote at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

Mayrhuber’s predecessor Weber was furious at the embarrassing débacle and in a speech on Tuesday blamed a “difficult consultancy company” and their “purely formulaic criteria of an interpretation of corporate governance.”

Lufthansa spokesman Jürgen Homeyer confirmed to Der Spiegel that the airline had known for some time that ISS would kick up a stink about Mayrhuber, whom it had dismissed as “over-boarded” in a report shown to the airline on April 15.

The Local/jlb

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