FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Joe Kaeser, the new chief executive of German engineering group Siemens, told a newspaper he played no role in the ousting of his predecessor Peter Loescher.
Loescher was dumped in a boardroom battle after the company issued its second profit warning of the year last week. Kaeser, previously finance chief at Siemens, became the company's new CEO on Thursday.
"I worked very well with Mr. Loescher and was not involved in his replacement," German daily Nuernberger Nachrichten quoted Kaeser as saying in an excerpt of an interview to be published on Monday.
There have been persistent rumors over the past year that Kaeser had his eye on Loescher's job and that there was considerably friction between the two managers, though both have repeatedly said they worked well together.
"Much has been written about untruths, rumors and speculation. The fact is that the supervisory board had to decide whether my predecessor should remain in office, and if not, who should succeed him. Those are two completely separate processes," Kaeser told Nuernberger Nachrichten in his first interview after being named CEO.
Loescher came under pressure after years of breakneck expansion and forays into new businesses, including an ill-fated detour into solar energy, left Siemens lagging rivals such as General Electric in terms of profitability.
Kaeser reiterated that he aims for Siemens to close the gap with competitors by focusing on the company's core competencies.
For instance, he saw opportunities for Siemens in the oil and gas industry's demand for pumps used for hydraulic fracturing, in ensuring uninterrupted electricity and cooling supply for server farms or in a growing electro-mobility market.
Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Ruth Pitchford