}
| 12:31 AM EST

Schaeffler Replaces CEO Geissinger


#Continental #Schaeffler #europe

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Bearings maker Schaeffler Group has replaced CEO Juergen Geissinger on an interim basis with its chief financial officer, Klaus Rosenfeld, who also will continue as CFO.

Schaeffler says Geissinger, who led the company since 1998, left by mutual consent and not because of a dispute. The company adds that his departure prepares Schaeffler for a "future reorientation," prompting some analysts to predict the company is preparing for an initial public offering.

Geissinger's contract was set to expire at the end of next year. The privately held company told employees its board had planned to consider a successor at year-end but accelerated the process after a media report about installing a new CEO.

He had been heavily criticized after leading a costly hostile takeover bid for the much larger Continental AG in 2008. Schaeffler ended up with more than 90% of Conti's shares and some €12 billion in debt that nearly ruined the company.

Schaeffler has since sold about half its Conti stake to reduce its debt burden. Rumors have circulated since April that the company might launch an IPO to further cut its debt, which stood at €6.8 billion at the end of 2012.