ThyssenKrupp: First fire letter to Gather, then resignation of Lehner

Ulrich Lehner

Since Heinrich Hiesinger’s resignation, events at ThyssenKrupp have turned upside down. Preliminary highlight: On Monday, Supervisory Board Chairman Ulrich Lehner announced his resignation as of 31 July. „I am taking this step consciously to enable a fundamental discussion among our stockholders about the future of Thyssen-Krupp,“ Lehner said. Hopefully, his move will raise awareness among all those involved that „the destruction of the company and the associated loss of many jobs is not an option – neither in the sense of the founder nor in the sense of our country“.

Has the Krupp Foundation failed in its core mission?

Even before her resignation, the criticism of Ursula Gather, who sits on the Group’s Supervisory Board for the Krupp Foundation, had become louder (see also our commentary last week). According to Handelsblatt, the employees of the foundation chairmen had written a fire letter last week in which they blamed the 65-year-old for Hiesinger’s departure: The staff was „angry because you personally did not support the man Berthold Beitz brought in to save our company as he deserved“. The foundation had „failed in its core mission of preserving the legacy of Alfried Krupp“.

„University and business are two worlds.“

Gather reacted immediately: After a meeting of the ten-strong Foundation Board of Trustees, to which NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet also belongs, the Board last Friday declared its support for the unity of the Group – but Ulrich Lehner was unable to change his mind as a result. According to Gather’s confidants, the impression that Gather did not fully support Lehner and Hiesinger is based on a misunderstanding. The rector of the TU Dortmund „has questioned the steel merger as thoroughly as she is used to from her scientific work“, the Handelsblatt quotes a person from her environment. „But university and business are two worlds.“ This seems to have avenged what corporate governance expert Christian Strenger had already criticized at the Annual General Meeting: Gathers‘ lack of experience in business.