Herrenknecht Supervisory Board: When the Filius pushes to the top position

Martin-Devid Herrenknecht

It was one of the most interesting interviews we have read in recent months: Manager Magazin interviewed Martin Herrenknecht and his son Martin-Devid (31) about succession planning with the world market leader for tunnel boring machines – and uncovered areas of conflict that usually do not become public in family businesses. The interviewers confronted the Filius with the fact that the Herrenknecht Supervisory Board – in which experienced controllers such as Hans-Jörg Vetter, Rüdiger Grube and Gerhard Schröder are sitting – had”considered an external manager for the CEO succession”.

Great self-confidence, questionable understanding of governance

He then told his father that”I would not accept him,” replied Martin-Devid Herrenknecht – thus revealing great self-confidence, but also a questionable understanding of corporate governance. The compromise now provides for the 76-year-old father to serve as CEO for another two years, during which time he will ensure that the brisk Filius – whom he repeatedly thwarted during the interview – will be”suitable for the board”. The supervisory board will support Grube Martin-Devid as management coach (against his will). We are curious to see whether this compromise will work – or whether the supervisory board members will at some point regret that they did not press for an external managing director more vehemently.