ZF CEO Sommer Steps Down

In what is said to be a “separation agreed by consensus,” and what some press reports are calling a power struggle, the chairman of the supervisory board of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, and CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer have agreed to end their cooperation with Sommer stepping down immediately.

Until a successor is appointed, finance board member and CEO Deputy Representative, Dr. Konstantin Sauer (58), will assume the role of CEO on an interim basis, ZF said.  As member of the board of management of ZF, Sauer was responsible for finance, IT and M&A activities.

“We would like to thank Dr. Sommer for his long-standing, successful employment in the company,” Paefgen said. “In his five years of service as the head of ZF, Dr. Stefan Sommer has developed the company with tireless commitment and great vision.

“The supervisory board will shortly name a successor and until then, CEO Deputy Dr. Konstantin Sauer will assume the position at the head of the company on an interim basis. As member of the Board of Management of ZF responsible for Finance, IT and M&A activities, he will guarantee the stability of the company and has our complete trust.”

Somer has been at ZF since 2008, when he joined the company as what was then the ZF Sachs division. In 2010 he became a member of the ZF Board of Management and served as CEO at ZF Electronics GmbH, were he also became part of the Board of Management for ZF Group and was name deputy executive vice president.

Prior to his time at ZF, he was a development engineer of ITT-Automotive Europe GmbH and was a vice president Continental.

Somer led ZF through an aggressive expansion, highlighted by its $12 billion acquisition of TRW Automotive in 2015. But while ZF extended Somer’s contract as CEO for five years in mid-2016, the company failed in its attempts to acquire Sweden’s Haldex and later U.S. supplier Wabco Holdings, which reportedly led to conflict between Somer and company management.

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