Siemens splashes out on buyback as new CEO works on strategy

Thu Nov 7, 2013 7:17am EST
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By Maria Sheahan and Jens Hack

BERLIN (Reuters) - Siemens' (SIEGn.DE: Quote) new Chief Executive Joe Kaeser promised on Thursday to buy back up to 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) worth of shares while asking investors for patience as he works out a strategy by May to close a gap with more profitable rivals.

Shares in the engineering group, Germany's second-biggest company by market value, rose to their highest level in two and a half years in response to the buyback, and were up 3.9 percent at 96.16 euros at 1155 GMT.

Some investors had said they hoped Kaeser would provide at least a glimpse of how he planned to turn around the company as he presented quarterly financial results.

But, sitting front and center at his first earnings conference as CEO and appearing relaxed and confident, the Siemens veteran kept his cards close to his chest.

"I don't want to present half-finished things," Kaeser told journalists at Siemens' former headquarters in Berlin, 99 days after taking the helm.

Kaeser reached the pinnacle of a more than three-decade career at Siemens - whose products range from gas turbines to fast trains and ultrasound machines - when his predecessor Peter Loescher was pushed out in a messy boardroom tussle in late July.

Under the former CEO, Siemens lost some ground to competitors such as Switzerland's ABB ABBN.VX and U.S.-based General Electric (GE.N: Quote) in terms of profitability due to a focus on sales growth as well as poor project management that resulted in a series of one-off charges.

At the same time, companies are facing a dearth of large orders as industrial customers delay spending in a weak global economy.   Continued...