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OC Oerlikon Names Ziegler Acting CEO

The Board of Directors of OC Oerlikon Corp. AG, Switzerland, has named Hans Ziegler a delegate of the Board of Directors and acting CEO, effective immediately. Ziegler, a corporate restructuring and turnaround management  specialist who has served on the Board since 2008, replaces previous CEO Dr. Uwe Krüger, who is leaving the company.

"Our decision was made in light of OC Oerlikon's semiannual results," said Vladimir Kuznetsov, chairman of the Board of Directors. "OC Oerlikon's sales fell by 40 percent and order intake by 39 percent in the first half [H1] of 2009 compared to H1 2008 amid an economic downturn of unprecedented proportions. The company urgently needs to secure coordination of strategic portfolio decisions with operational measures of OC Oerlikon's businesses. The announced management change ensures the alignment of the company's strategy with the interests of all stakeholders."

The company has identified more than 700 initiatives to cut operating costs, including site consolidations, temporary plant closures, reductions in workforce and work hours, vacation extensions, hiring and pay freezes, product line discontinuations, supplier contract renegotiations, and other measures. In H1 2009, the company eliminated almost 1,500 jobs across all businesses, and it plans a further reduction of 2,500 positions in the second half of the year.

OC Oerlikon's textile business, Germany-based Oerlikon Textile GmbH, reported H1 2009 orders 47 percent below H1 2008 levels, with sales 55 percent lower than year-earlier sales. Restructuring initiatives undertaken thus farto improve performance include consolidation of three manufacturing sites, elimination of 700 jobs worldwide and reduction of work hours for some 2,000 employees. Its performance has shown some improvement, with higher incoming orders than sales in the second quarter of this year, and the company reports what appears to be a "sustainable upward trend" in the man-made fibers market. Improvement in sales is expected in the second half of the year.

Overall, OC Oerlikon spent 100 million Swiss francs in research and development in H1 2009, and it anticipates sustained improvements in performance and a return to profitability in 2010.

September/October 2009