The Messer Group appears to be positioning for its return to life as a truly global Tier One industrial gas player, with the news of a management reshuffle in light of its pending acquisition of Linde assets in the Americas region.
It was confirmed on 16th July that a consortium comprising of the Messer Group and CVC Capital Partners Fund VII had entered into an agreement to purchase the majority of Linde’s gases business in North America and certain business activities in South America.
The business to be sold generated annual sales of approximately $1.7bn (€1.4bn) and an EBITDA of just over $360m (€305m) in 2017. These include substantially all of Linde’s US bulk business, and its business in Brazil, Canada and Colombia.
There is speculation today that the consortium could yet pick up even more assets in the region as Linde and Praxair strive to sell more operations to meet Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approval in the US.
Speculation aside, the Messer Group has this afternoon announced that it is making changes to its management. At his own request, Dr. Hans-Gerd Wienands, the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) since 2004, will be leaving his position effective 30th September 2018. He will join the Advisory Board at Messer Industries, a joint venture with CVC Capital Partners in which the Messer Group holds a majority share.
Once the planned merger between Linde and Praxair is complete, the joint venture will take over the business units of Linde in America and also acquire the subsidiaries added to it from the Messer Group in Western Europe.
Dr. Uwe Bechtolf, who has been with the company since 1995 and is responsible for controlling and accounting at Messer Group since 2004, will follow in Dr. Wienands’ footsteps and take over the management of Messer’s financial affairs and the areas of legal, insurance and taxes.
Ernst Bode, who has been with the company since 1988 and in charge of Messer’s activities in Serbia since 2005, will round out Messer Group’s Management Board as its Chief Operating Officer (COO). In future, he will be responsible for the operating functions in Europe as well as for the central functions of Safety and Environmental Protection, Production and Engineering, Logistics, IT, Digitalisation and IT Security.
Over the past years, working alongside owner and CEO Stefan Messer, Dr Hans-Gerd Wienands has contributed to charting the return of the Messer Group and the MEC Group to family hands, and to the strategic realignment of both corporate groups. Under their leadership Messer has managed to increase sales from €521m to €1.232bn since 2004. This is due in particular to Dr. Wienands’ commitment to the successful development of business in China.