(Reuters) – German gases maker Linde on Monday proposed Wolfgang Reitzle as the chairman of its supervisory board, ending weeks of speculation over whether the group’s former chief executive would return.
The company said it would propose to elect Reitzle, who served as Linde CEO until 2014, as chairman of its supervisory board effective May 21, 2016.
Reitzle is also chairman at Swiss-French cement group LafargeHolcim, which said he would not stand for re-election at the shareholders meeting in May.
“The board regrets this decision while acknowledging Mr. Reitzle’s wish to pursue other business activities that will require his fullest attention, in particular the chairmanship of the Linde supervisory board,” LafargeHolcim said.
It proposed Vice Chairman Beat Hess, a former ABB and Royal Dutch Shell executive, as his successor.
One person familiar with the matter had said earlier he expected Reitzle to step down from the world’s biggest building supplies company given the demands of integrating Swiss group Holcim and France’s Lafarge after their merger last year.
“I am satisfied that LafargeHolcim is now fully on track with realising the benefits of the combined businesses. With its committed people and leading position in markets around the globe, LafargeHolcim is well placed to reach its targets,” Reitzle said in a statement.
He is also chairman of German automotive supplier Continental AG. Continental had no comment on his move.
LafargeHolcim shares, which have fallen by nearly half since the merger wrapped up in July, dropped 7.7 percent by 1418 GMT, while Linde shares were down 4.5 percent. (Reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, Andreas Cremer in Berlin and by Oliver Hirt and Michael Shields in Zurich; Editing by Georgina Prodhan and Tom Heneghan)
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