Hiesinger & Lehner: Why the critics attack the wrong people

In football, kicking is frowned upon, but unfortunately it is common practice in the economy. We are experiencing this again in the ThyssenKrupp case: via former Executive Board Chairman Heinrich Hiesinger and also retired Supervisory Board Chairman Ulrich Lehner, there is a veritable hail of criticism from the entire spectrum of the economy. Ex-investment banker Dirk Notheis described the decisions of the two in a FAZ column as “frighteningly irresponsible”, and ThyssenKrupp employee representative Markus Grolms (currently interim head of the Supervisory Board) even rose to a settlement with an “offended child”. Whew.

Hiesinger bashing obscures the view of the essentials

We find it astonishing how self-assured some people allow themselves to make such defamatory judgments without knowing the exact background – for example Hiesinger and Lohner’s talks with the supervisory board member Ursula Gather, who represents the major shareholder Krupp Foundation. The only thing is clear: Gather refused the two of them clear backing, although the dispute with the investors Cevian and Elliott got worse. That Hiesinger and Lehner interpreted this as a vote of no confidence after the long, exhausting struggle for their principles and drew consequences, we consider straightforward and understandable. Instead of further hitting the two, critics should look ahead – and, for example, address the question of whether the Krupp Foundation should send more economically experienced experts to the ThyssenKrupp Supervisory Board, who have more to offer to the highly professional Cevian representatives. We are convinced that this is the only way it can fulfill its mission and protect ThyssenKrupp from a one-dimensional shareholder value culture.