(Yicai Global) Nov. 28 -- The chief executive of Kuka will leave his role after nearly a decade in charge of the German robotics giant owned by Chinese home appliance maker Midea Group.
Chief Financial Officer Peter Mohne will take over from Till Reuter as CEO in December, the Foshan-based parent company said in a statement, without providing an official explanation for the move. Mohne is expected to spearhead initiatives to help the company improve operational efficiency and increase cash flow.
"I am proud to have been part of Kuka for the last ten years and pushed robotics forward together with the team," the outgoing Reuter said. "Robotics and automation are the key topics of the future. I wish you all the best for the future. You always have my support. "
Reuter, who joined Kuka in 2009, steered the company through the global economic downturn. Under his leadership, Kuka has maintained a leading position in the automotive industry and entered diversified new markets. He worked with the Kuka team to formulate strategies toward Industry 4.0, collaborative robots, and growth in China.
Deals Remain in Place
Existing investment deals will be unaffected by the development, the firm said. "We want to continue to be a reliable partner for our customers, based on the know-how of our employees," said Mohnen.
All existing investment deals reached between Kuka and its dominant shareholder Midea Group, including those regarding the robot maker's intellectual property, will remain unchanged after the leadership change.
Midea Group will continue to supports the Augsburg-based firm with a focus on research and development and investments in digitalization and Industry 4.0. The company's head office will remain in Germany, the company said.
Bolstering Kuka-Midea Integration
It has been nearly two years since Midea Group bought out Kuka, the robot maker achieved stable development despite a fall in operating revenue targets for this year, Huang Yan, an independent home appliance sector analyst, told Yicai Global. The company's performance is probably not the driver of the switch, he added.
The main reason for the change should be that the effect of integration with Midea has not been as strong as expected and has also been slow, Huang said.
Reuter and Midea Group are divided on the direction of Kuka's development and the firm's business in China has been slower than expected, though the existing CEO does hold shares in Kuka and contributed to Midea's acquisition of Kuka, he added.
Midea Group and Kuka have set up three joint ventures in China this year, but no more information about the cooperation and coordination between the three joint ventures and Kuka has been made available since then and Kuka's financial reports have not fully reflected its performance in the Chinese market.
Midea Group currently occupies four seats on Kuka's board of supervisors, and the Guangdong-based company played the role of the controlling shareholder during the personnel adjustment.
The outgoing CEO's position in the company has not been helped by the declining performance of Kuka's robot business. Orders decreased 6.8 percent annually to EUR750.1 million (USD849 million) in the third quarter, while those for the first nine months fell 6.1 percent to EUR2.6 billion.
The robot maker expected sales revenue for the year is around EUR3.3 billion, according to the most recent interim report. This projection has fallen from EUR3.5 billion at the start of the year.