September 13, 2015 / 11:46 AM / 4 years ago

ABB chairman opposes breaking up two main businesses: paper

The logo of Swiss engineering group ABB is seen in Baden near Zurich, Switzerland, in this July 14, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

ZURICH (Reuters) - ABB ABBN.VX Chairman Peter Voser said he opposed the idea of breaking up the engineering group’s two main businesses and was not facing pressure from its big shareholders for change.

His comments, published by SonntagsZeitung newspaper on Sunday, came amid media reports that activist group Cevian, one of ABB’s main shareholders, was pushing for reforms that could include breaking up the company.

“I am strictly against separating energy and automation because you cannot separate them,” Voser was quoted as saying.

Customers, he added, wanted integrated applications from one supplier.

ABB last week announced a strategic review of its low-margin power projects business and said it would likely decide next year what to do with the new division.

But Voser said the step had not resulted from any external pressure.

“The board and management were at no point under pressure because of external expressions of opinion. The strategy was developed over the long term and is conceived for the long-term future,” he was quoted as saying.

Voser said Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer would get the time he needs to implement strategic steps the group has already announced. Asked how long this was, he said:

“The timetable is clear. The 1,000-day program to cut costs should be completed by the end of 2017. And we have growth forecasts to 2020, so the time frame is somewhere in between.”

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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