ABB’s new CEO pursues overhaul - GulfToday

ABB’s new CEO pursues overhaul


Pedestrians stand near the ABB facility in Baden, Switzerland. Reuters

ZURICH: ABB is pressing ahead with a review of its underperforming businesses and expects a customer slowdown and China-US trade tensions to mean a turbulent year, its Chairman and interim Chief Executive Peter Voser told Reuters.

The Swiss engineering company is in a “heavy-lifting phase”, Voser said, completing the separation and sale of its power grids business to Hitachi, and announcing a deal to quit solar energy inverters.

Businesses which generate $3 billion of revenue, 11% of ABB’s total annual sales, are now under review and could be sold off or closed down, Voser told Reuters.

“We have under review some $3 billion of revenues and this solar divestment will be part of it,” he said.

ABB expects a turbulent 2019, with the automotive sector’s troubles hitting the industrial robot and drive maker, although demand from the food and beverages sector remains resilient.

“There are clear headwinds in some of the end markets we are operating in, therefore in some of the businesses we see a slowdown,” Voser said in an interview at ABB’s Zurich head office, his first since taking over as interim CEO.

“But it is not just an economic slowdown, there are also geopolitical issues ... it is hard to forecast how long it could go on for.”

Economic data has shown faltering factory output in Europe and concerns that US-Chinese tensions will hurt economic growth.

Voser, a former CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, took over as temporary boss at ABB following the sudden exit of Ulrich Spiesshofer in April.

“2019 will be a year when a lot of factors will work themselves into our results: some stranded costs, the Power Grids carve out and other portfolio decisions and some slowing down in end markets,” Voser said.


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