Andy Gu: Chinese Kuka Chairman of the Supervisory Board: “Our investors were definitely not satisfied”

Midea representative Andy Gu mediates between the worlds on the supervisory board. At the Kuka Annual General Meeting, he backs up CEO Mohnen.

Munich. Andy Gu put on a tie in Kuka orange for the shareholders’ meeting. The chairman of the supervisory board and representative of the Chinese owner Midea wants to show his colours at the general meeting of the robot manufacturer after turbulent months. At the end of last year, the Chinese investor had pushed through the separation from Till Reuter, who had been CEO for many years.

Reuter deserves “respect and heartfelt thanks” because he has transformed Kuka from a medium-sized company into a global technology group, Gu said in English in his brief opening speech. However, the business development in 2018 was not satisfactory. Reuter had to leave.

Andy Gu, whose real name is Gu Yanmin, is the strong man at Midea. As Vice President, he manages the international business of the Chinese household appliance group and is also responsible for the most important investment, Kuka. Almost three years ago, the Chinese had taken over the robot manufacturer for the proud price of more than four billion euros, thus triggering fears of a sell-out of German high technology.

But the Chinese were not happy with the expensive purchase: After two profit warnings Reuter had to leave. “Our investors were definitely not satisfied with Kuka’s performance,” Gu said in an interview with the Handelsblatt. Initially, CFO Peter Mohnen managed the business on a provisional basis. Shortly before the Annual General Meeting, he now received a permanent contract. “Continuity is important,” Gu said. If Mohnen implements his plans, Kuka will be on the right track. “Mr. Mohnen has our full confidence.”

Gu has to commute between two worlds. The cultural differences proved to be great. So Midea is extremely number and yield oriented. The Chinese are also active in the end-customer business with their household appliances. New products are developed quickly and can also be optimized once.