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Dormann to step down as ABB chairman next May

Dormann is not seeking re-election next May

(Keystone)

The Swiss engineering group ABB has announced that its chairman, Jürgen Dormann, is to retire at the company's annual shareholders' meeting in May.

ABB, which has its headquarters in Zurich, said Dormann had decided not to seek re-election for a further term.

Dormann, aged 66, is widely praised as the architect of the successful turnaround of the group. It had overstretched itself in an expansion programme that brought the company to near collapse under a mountain of debt.

The German took an axe to the company, slashing about 60,000 jobs and selling off non-core assets around the world.

The company said in a statement on Monday that the board had started a process to nominate a successor and would inform its shareholders before the meeting on May 3.

ABB's chief executive, Fred Kindle, said Dormann had made a "historic contribution" to the successful long-term development of the group.

Exceptional leadership

"His courage to take responsibility in very difficult times for the company and his exceptional leadership as ABB chairman and CEO were essential for ABB's successful turnaround," he commented.

ABB board members are nominated for a one-year term and are elected by shareholders at the company's annual meeting.

Under Dormann's leadership, ABB managed to recover from four years of heavy losses between 2001 and 2004, which totalled $2.36 billion (SFr2.84 billion).

ABB returned to the black in 2005, showing a net profit of $735 million.

The former head of German life sciences group Hoechst, Dormann made a name for himself as a turnaround specialist. During his time at the company, it shed 80,000 jobs - half the workforce - in five years.

At ABB, the workforce was reduced from 161,000 in 2000 before the financial crisis to a little more than 100,000 today.

Dormann managed to clean up the balance sheet while concentrating ABB business on power and automation technology.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

ABB financial figures for first nine months of 2006
Orders: $21,08 billion (SFr25.44 billion) up 18% over comparable period in 2005
Sales: $17.39 billion (+7%)
Operating profit (Ebit): $1.83 billion (+49%)

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ABB

ABB describes itself as a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance in a sustainable way.

The group operates in about 100 countries and employs about 107,000 people.

ABB was formed with the merger of Sweden's Asea and Switzerland's Brown Boveri in 1988.

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