Borse skeptical:new henkel boss under pressure from the start

Borse skeptical:new henkel boss under pressure from the start

The designated new head of consumer goods manufacturer henkel (persil, schwarzkopf, fa), carsten knobel, has been under pressure from the outset. Recently, business at the dusseldorf-based company has not been as smooth as it used to be.

This was one of the reasons why the stock exchange reacted skeptically to the appointment of the former CFO as successor to henkel CEO hans van bylen, who is leaving the company at the end of the year. Henkel shares lost more than four percent at times on friday morning, making them the weakest stock in the german leading index dax.

The change in leadership at the dusseldorf-based brand comes at a time when henkel has lost much of its former glory for shareholders. In june 2017, the share price climbed to a record high of almost 130 euros, but then fell steadily. And some analysts hold the designated new boss jointly responsible for this development.

Analyst celine pannuti of jpmorgan criticized that knobel had been part of the henkel management team that had recently failed to deliver operationally. Martin deboo of the jefferies analysis company also questioned whether a manager like knobel, who had been involved in the decisions and course-setting of the past few years, was the right answer to the challenges facing henkel.

By contrast, jella benner-heinacher, managing director of the german association for the protection of investors (DSW), also saw positive aspects in the appointment of the chief financial officer. The manager knows the company and has a good grip on the finances. But as head of henkel, he has to "step on the gas a bit".

Knobel is confronted with several construction sites at henkel when he takes office. This is how the cyclically sensitive adhesives business is suffering from the weakness in the automotive industry. The skin and hair care business is facing high competitive pressure in mature markets – especially in europe. Only the laundry and home care business, such as persil, somat and sidolin, is doing well, with a marked slowdown in the second quarter.

An opportunity for henkel to tap into new growth potential could be presented to knobel in the short term, in the ailing cosmetics sector of all places. Because, according to its own statements, the cosmetics group coty is currently reviewing the sale of well-known brands such as wella. Henkel had already been interested in wella in the past. A takeover of wella could "significantly improve the market position of the cosmetics business," said benner-heinacher. Other market observers complain that wella is no longer as attractive a takeover target as it was in the past.

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