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Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz to pilot Roche

Christoph Franz, who is nominated to succeed Franz Humer as Roche chairman, got to know Switzerland when he became head of Swiss International in 2005 Keystone

Christoph Franz, chief executive officer of German airline Lufthansa, has been nominated to succeed Franz Humer as chairman of Roche’s board next year, the Swiss drugmaker said on Monday.

Humer, who has been working for the Swiss pharmaceutical company since 1995, announced at the last shareholder meeting that he would not be standing for re-election. From 1998 until 2008 he was Roche’s CEO, and from 2001 onwards he took on the role of chairman.

“With Christoph Franz, Roche is getting a chairman with outstanding personal qualities and an impressive record as head of a major global company,” Humer said. “I am sure that his extensive experience, exceptional global network and strong links to Switzerland will be great assets.”

At the next shareholders meeting on March 4, 2014, the Roche board will propose Franz as next chairman. Franz will not renew his contract as CEO of the Lufthansa Group, which expires on 31 May 2014, Lufthansa said in a statement.

Franz, 53, who hold a PhD in economics, is already a member of Roche’s board. Franz said he’s had ample opportunity to get to know the Swiss company.

The German national has worked for Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn and Swiss International Airlines. He is leaving Lufthansa at a difficult time as the German airline is in the middle of a large programme to cut costs and improve earnings.

In the Lufthansa statement, Franz said that the time is right for a change of leadership after the launch of the restructuring programme. The company’s chairman Wolfgang Mayrhuber said that the firm regrets Franz’s departure, but that personally he respects and understands his decision.

“Under Franz’ reign, Lufthansa Group has expanded its position as one of the leading European aviation companies,” Mayrhuber said. “His visionary leadership has provided the foundation for the successful further development of the company.”

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