CEO Kamper leaves ailing auto supplier Leoni

Leoni CEO Aldo Kamper

The Dutchman leaves the cable network specialist in the middle of the restructuring.

(Photo: Leoni AG)

Munich In the middle of the delicate restructuring phase, Leoni boss Aldo Kamper leaves the ailing car supplier and takes over the management of the lighting and sensor technology group AMS-Osram. Both companies announced this on Monday evening.

For Leoni, the departure of the CEO comes at a delicate time. Shortly before Christmas, the sale of the Leoni cable division unexpectedly collapsed. The deal was actually part of the restructuring concept agreed with the banks for the wiring system specialist. The institutes temporarily extended the credit lines, and negotiations are currently underway as to how to proceed.

“I would have liked to have completed the restructuring of this promising company as CEO,” said Kamper. However, the challenge at AMS-Osram is the “consistent continuation” of his professional career. “I couldn’t say no to that.” According to Leoni, Kamper is leaving on March 31.

Kamper succeeds Alexander Everke

Kamper worked for Osram from 1994 to 2018. Before moving to the top of Leoni, he most recently managed the chip division Osram Opto Semiconductors. Mainly because of this unit, the Austrian sensor specialist AMS took over the German lighting company Osram in 2020. Kamper will now take over the management of the company as the successor to Alexander Everke. According to AMS-Osram, the change should be completed “probably in the course of spring”.

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Everke had pulled through the Osram acquisition against a lot of resistance. “Two years after the complete takeover of Osram, the integration of both companies into a joint group is well advanced,” he said. AMS-Osram is a “highly innovative semiconductor company with an attractive portfolio and excellent market positions”. For him, now is the right time to hand over the lead after seven years.

Margarete Haase, Chairwoman of the AMS-Osram Supervisory Board, said Kamper would “continue and further develop the company’s strategic direction”. The aim is to “exploit the opportunities from the combination of sensors and LED technology”.

Kamper, like Osram before it, was popular with Leoni. Leoni Supervisory Board Chairman Klaus Rinnerberger said: “I very much regret that Mr. Kamper is leaving the company.” He took over the company in a difficult situation and “led it through extremely challenging times”. He has proven himself as a crisis manager. The supervisory board will start talks immediately to arrange the successor.

According to company circles, Kamper’s decision came as a surprise to everyone. The regrets in the house are real. In view of the new professional opportunity, many would understand. Restructuring expert Hans-Joachim Ziems, who recently returned to Leoni’s board of directors, will continue to conduct negotiations with the banks.

According to information from the Handelsblatt from financial circles, the loans have been extended for about half a year. A viable solution must be found during this time.

Leoni had to take state aid early on

Leoni has been in crisis for years. Initially, the wiring system specialist had taken on too much when expanding abroad. During the corona crisis, the company was one of the first companies in Germany to have to seek state aid.

Since then, the group has made progress in restructuring. However, at times production in the Ukraine came to a standstill because of the Russian war of aggression. This led to production problems at the big car manufacturers – Leoni’s most important customers.

An essential part of the refinancing concept by the end of 2025 should actually be the sale of the cable division Business Group Automotive Cable Solutions to the Thai Stark Corporation.

The unit, which recently generated sales of around 1.3 billion euros, was valued at almost 600 million euros, more than 400 million euros should flow to Leoni after deduction of financial liabilities and pension costs. The sum should largely be put into debt reduction. However, the Thais backed down shortly before the implementation.

This came at the wrong time for Leoni. In the third quarter, the loss rose from 27 to 88 million euros. “It’s not without good reason that experts are talking about the perfect storm that the automotive supplier industry is facing,” said Kamper when the bad figures were presented. The increasing costs for materials and logistics as well as tight supply chains and volatile product calls made things difficult for the industry.

Great challenges await him at AMS-Osram as well. The group, which – before the spin-off of parts of the company – recently had sales of more than five billion euros, still has debts to cope with from the takeover, the integration is not yet fully completed. In view of the difficult economic environment, AMS-Osram announced intensified austerity measures in November.

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