ABB Board Proposes Former Shell Exec as Its New Chairman

Dec. 18, 2014
If approved by shareholders at ABB’s annual general meeting in April, Peter Voser will take over from Hubertus von Grünberg, who has decided not to stand for reelection.

With its current chairman declining reelection, ABB announced today that its board proposed Royal Dutch Shell’s former CEO as its new chairman. ABB’s board of directors unanimously nominated Peter Voser to take over the position from 72-year-old Hubertus von Grünberg as the automation giant heads into a new business strategy.

If shareholders vote Voser in as chairman at the next annual general meeting in April, it could be a relatively smooth transition. Aside from serving at Shell most recently as CFO and then CEO, and before that in various financial and business positions for the company around the globe, Voser spent 2002-2004 (between his stints at Shell) as CFO for ABB.

“I am honored to be nominated as chairman of the board, and look forward to working with ABB’s CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer, his executive team and the board of directors to drive accelerated sustainable value creation through the implementation of the recently announced Next Level strategy,” Voser said in a statement.

Voser was a significant part of the turnaround and repositioning of ABB during his time there in the early 2000s, and is expected to be instrumental again as the company focuses on its Next Level strategy for 2015-2020. Announced in September, the plan shifts the company’s focus toward high-growth end markets and looks to reduce risk. “We are shifting our center of gravity towards higher-growth segments while enhancing competitiveness and lowering risk particularly in our Power Systems division,” Spiesshofer said in a statement at the time.

One recent announcement from ABB—its joint venture with Hitachi for Japan’s electricity grid—highlights its strategy to improve competitiveness in the power segment.

“I am delighted that Peter Voser has accepted to stand for election as chairman of ABB,” said von Grünberg. “Peter Voser brings intimate knowledge of ABB and its key markets as well as an excellent track record as a leader in large, global organizations.”

In addition to von Grünberg, the current members of the ABB board are Roger Agnelli, Matti Alahuhta, Louis R. Hughes, Michel de Rosen, Michael Treschow, Jacob Wallenberg and Ying Yeh. Treschow, chairman of the Governance and Nomination Committee, has also decided not to stand for reelection. All others will stand for reelection, and David Constable will stand for election at the general meeting.

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