September 25, 2017 / 4:37 PM / 25 days ago

Lufthansa names former CFO Kley as new chairman

BERLIN (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) named its former finance chief Karl-Ludwig Kley as new chairman of its supervisory board, replacing Wolfgang Mayrhuber, who resigned six months before the end of his term.

FILE PHOTO: Planes of the Lufthansa airline stand on the tarmac in Frankfurt airport, Germany, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Kley, 66, who is also the chairman of power company E.ON’s (EONGn.DE) supervisory board, took over on Monday, the flagship carrier said in a statement.

He was Lufthansa’s finance chief for eight years through 2006 before joining drugs and chemicals group Merck KGaA (MRCG.DE), where he later became chief executive.

He has been a member of Lufthansa’s supervisory board since 2013, and there was already speculation late in 2015 that he would replace Mayrhuber, after Kley was quoted as saying he would take the job if it was offered to him.

Lufthansa did not say why Mayrhuber, who has been with Lufthansa for more than 40 years and became its CEO in 2003, was stepping down from his post early.

“In the interest of continuous development and a forward looking development, I have resigned from my mandate so that Karl-Ludwig Kley can assume the position as Chairman,” Mayrhuber said.

Under the Austrian national’s leadership, Lufthansa pursued an aggressive acquisition drive, buying up rivals including Austrian Airlines and Swiss.

The results were seen as mixed by analysts, as Germany’s biggest airline had to suspend its dividend twice and slash costs as part of a painful strategic overhaul.

But the group posted record results in the past two years, and its current CEO Carsten Spohr said last week that business so far in 2017 was proving even better.

Lufthansa is also poised to take over part of insolvent smaller peer Air Berlin (AB1.DE), having been picked as a preferred bidder alongside Britain’s easyJet (EZJ.L).

The group also nominated Miriam Elizabeth Sapiro, a partner at communications consultancy Finsbury, to fill the vacant seat left on the supervisory board by Mayrhuber’s departure after Lufthansa’s shareholder meeting in May 2018.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Arno Schuetze and Victoria Bryan

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