Blog: Dean BestAll change at Metro as CEO checks out

Dean Best | 25 September 2007

There are plenty of rumours flying around about German retailer Metro, with the imminent change of leadership said to signal an about-turn in strategy at the company.

CEO Joachim Körber is to leave Metro after 22 years following simmering tension with a key shareholder, which seemingly came to a head in recent weeks.

German industrial holding Franz Haniel, which holds over a third of the retailer, disagreed with the way Metro was being run under Körber. Now, Haniel’s chief executive, Eckhard Cordes, is set to take over at the top – prompting much gossip about the company’s future direction.

Speculation has abounded that Cordes would look to break up the company, which has a lucrative bank of real estate on its balance sheet. The markets seemed to favour Metro’s announcement that Cordes had been put forward to take the hot seat – shares in the company soared to an eight-year high on the news.

Cordes has moved to cool employee concerns that Metro’s Real hypermarkets will be sold off. However, there is little doubt that, as head of a significant investor, Cordes will take a fresh look at Metro’s global footprint – and see how shareholder returns can be improved. Disposals, or some sort of restructuring at the very least, seem likely.


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