Siemens CEO Will Step Down This Year

Klaus Kleinfeld was not personally implicated in investigation.

Klaus Kleinfled, the chief executive of Siemens, Europe's biggest engineering company, said on April 25 he would leave his post this year to allow the company to focus on weathering a corruption scandal.

Siemens said in a statement after a meeting of its supervisory board that Klaus Kleinfeld "has announced that he is not available for a renewal of his contract which expires on September 30, 2007." It said Kleinfeld, who has not personally been implicated in the ongoing slush fund investigation, had refused to accept a postponement of the decision on extending his contract.

"In times like these, the company needs clarity about its leadership. I have therefore decided not to make myself available for an extension of my contract," Siemens quoted Kleinfeld, 49, as saying. "The company must have complete freedom of action."

Siemens' former chief executive and the current head of the supervisory board, Heinrich von Pierer, formally stepped down on April 25.

Board members had said behind closed doors in recent days that the company needed to make a fresh start with new management as it contended with the wide-reaching criminal investigation. The incoming supervisory board chief, Gerhard Cromme, thanked Kleinfeld for his "decisive and successful leadership" of Siemens over the past two years.

The corruption scandal at Siemens, hitherto one of Germany's most respected industrial groups, heightened in March when a board member, Johannes Feldmayer, was arrested and kept in custody as part of a probe into alleged payments made to a union official. Union representatives have a powerful decision-making role in German companies. Prosecutors have also raided Siemens offices in Munich, Erlangen and Nuremberg.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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