Economy & Politics

The new owner in Oberndorf creates facts

At the Heckler & Koch company, some new course was set at the annual general meeting. Photo: dpa / Wolf von Dewitz

With the financial holding CDE, a new major shareholder has taken over power at the weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch. At the Annual General Meeting, the shareholders reverse the resolutions of the long-standing majority shareholder Heeschen.

Oberndorf – No arguments, no heated debates among the shareholders: The general meeting of the Swabian arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch (HK) is exceptionally calm. This is mainly due to the fact that, due to the Corona, no shareholders are invited to the headquarters in Oberndorf (Rottweil district) and they are only allowed to follow the meeting via livestream on the Internet. On the other hand, the potential for conflict this time is nowhere near as high as it was at the meeting at the end of 2019, at which the Luxembourg financial holding CDE and its boss, the Frenchman Nicolas Walewski, aimed for a majority of the shares.

This intended takeover will now be official with the general meeting in Oberndorf. For the first time in almost two decades, the German investor Andreas Heeschen is no longer in charge, but the CDE. It took over around 60 percent of the HK shares in mid-July. The CDE also uses the shareholders’ meeting on Thursday to reverse decisions from the Heeschen era.

Harald Kujat fell victim to the power struggle

The weapons manufacturer’s shareholders decide to reverse the resolution and increase the number of Supervisory Board members from three to four. In this context, the shareholders also put a stop to the resolution to appoint Heeschen as a member of the supervisory board. Heeschen had resisted the takeover, but could not prevent it. The victim of this power struggle was the former Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Harald Kujat, who joined the Supervisory Board a year ago at the suggestion of Heeschen and moved to its head. Kujat and his current deputy Martin Sorg are resigning from their offices at the end of the meeting.

Bad news for some means good news for someone else: The Belgian Nicolaus Bocklandt, who has the trust of Walewski, is re-elected to the HK AG Supervisory Board by the owners. Bocklandt has been supporting the company with his extensive expertise as a member of the supervisory board since 2015, the company announced.

The CEO of Heckler & Koch is very satisfied

No other members of the supervisory board are elected. Therefore, the board of HK AG will have two more members of the supervisory board appointed by the court. “The situation of our company requires a supervisory board that can convincingly accompany the necessary further change process”, Jens Bodo Koch, CEO of Heckler & Koch AG is quoted as saying.

Koch is very satisfied with the gun manufacturer’s current situation. For the Executive Board and the workforce, the CDE is “a tailwind on the path to further recovery of our company,” says Koch. He also dares the cautious forecast of being able to increase sales from just under 140 million euros in the first half of the year to up to 250 million by the end of the year – provided that no second wave of corona infections hits the shops.

But it doesn’t seem to be the coronavirus that worries shareholders. Most of the questions submitted by the board of directors at the virtual general meeting relate to the implementation of the Green Country Strategy, according to which the company only supplies its products to free-democratic countries and to countries following the Federal Government guidelines are of particular importance for Germany in terms of foreign and security policy. Shareholders are particularly critical of exports to France because of the Foreign Legion operating under the French army. No dilemma for the HK board: This refers to the export to a main depot of the armed forces in France. Koch emphasizes that there is no information about the distribution of weapons there.

The most important thing for the Management Board is to position the company successfully for the future. With sustainability concepts, the advancement of innovations, modernization and expansion projects as well as a completely new product range for various special units, those responsible see themselves well equipped. It is to be hoped, according to the announcement, that calm will return to the Oberndorf company.

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