Mr. Dinstuhl, first question for you. We usually start by asking our guests what their company is all about, or what the businesses are all about, what the strategy is, what the products are, and so on. If I've counted correctly, there are eleven companies in your field, eleven different situations and scenarios. How would you explain your segment to our viewers?
Dinstuhl: Yes, last year we combined eleven businesses in the Multi Tracks segment that are very different. Different in terms of their size, in terms of the industries in which they operate, also in terms of the degree to which they are independent and face very individual challenges. And we try to find the best perspective for these companies. That may be, for example, that some companies are too small to survive on the market permanently on their own. Others need investments that we at thyssenkrupp cannot give them in this way. So we try to develop the best option for each of these companies and we have made good progress this year.
Multi Tracks had a difficult time at the beginning, especially in the press. There was disrespectful talk about "junk shop" or "bad bank". How would you classify that for the audience? Is it just about selling businesses at an ideally very good price, or is there more to it than that?
Dinstuhl: Well, the focus is on developing these businesses, increasing the performance of these businesses. And I think after one year you can say that Multi Tracks is a real success model for thyssenkrupp. Earnings and cash flows are significantly better than in the two previous fiscal years and we have also made great progress in the portfolio area in recent weeks.
Keyword ‘successes’, Mr. Höllermann. I think there were four of them: Mining, Infrastructure, Carbon Components and finally AST. Congratulations at this point. Apart from the purely commercial M&A activity, how challenging was it in terms of the employees?
Höllermann: Our focus is of course on finding solutions for the employees that offer very good prospects. Of crucial importance is the first transition – when the new owner runs the business and takes over the ownership – to ensure that the employees have a certain degree of security through communication and agreements that they are headed towards a future where investments will be made. But also that jobs are secured in the long term. I think we can come up with very good examples of how we have achieved both. So I'm proud of the track record we have there and how we have worked with everyone involved – be it employee representatives, be it management, be it shareholders – to shape these processes in such a way that this aspect has also been taken into account in a sensible and good way. It is sometimes necessary to add another loop and wait a little longer to ensure that these aspects are properly covered.
There are now four businesses for which solutions have been found. We said at the beginning that there are eleven in total. What happens if you don't receive satisfactory offers for businesses? Is an alternative within the Group of Companies imaginable, or are other solutions considered?
Höllermann: Part of multi-tracks is that we work on various solutions at the same time and, as you rightly say, it can happen that there are no adequate partnerships or even buyers in an M&A process and the offers are not suitable. We have examples from chemical plant engineering, from cement plant engineering, where we simply continue to operate these businesses as thyssenkrupp. But that doesn't mean that we won't analyze again at a later date whether the strategies we could build up with partners or through sales might not be better. Conversely, it can of course also lead to the conclusion that we can no longer give the business the right attention, but that this business is also not attractive enough in the market, so that we have to come to partial closures or even closures of the entire business. That's part of honesty, that's also part of the fact that the businesses have been assigned to Multi Tracks, and we have to prepare our organization accordingly.
Mr. Dinstuhl, as you know, thyssenkrupp is undergoing the biggest transformation in the company's history. And Multi Tracks is right in the middle of it, playing a major role and being of considerable importance on the way forward. If you now analyze this in terms of capability, i.e. performance – what contribution does Multi Tracks make to the Group as a whole?
Dinstuhl: Well, I think that we at Multi Tracks contribute in several respects. The first is the performance of our businesses themselves, which is what Mr. Höllermann just mentioned: We work very intensively with our businesses on individual performance programs. That also lays the foundation for any kind of portfolio considerations. And we are gaining important experience in M&A restructuring and turnaround, which then benefits the entire Group of Companies. The second aspect is that when we successfully sell companies, we generate funds which are then available to thyssenkrupp for investment in other businesses, in future technologies. And thirdly, we ourselves have a future technology in our segment, our hydrogen business. One of our companies is UCE, Uhde Chlorine Engineers. There we have an established electrolysis business that we are currently developing further for the hydrogen market. And yes, as you know from the press, hydrogen is one of the dominant topics of the future, and we at thyssenkrupp are excellently positioned in this area.
Thank you for the jump on that. Since you just mentioned it, let's talk briefly about hydrogen, because many of our viewers are probably quite curious about what thyssenkrupp is doing with it now. Maybe you can tell us something we don't all know?
Dinstuhl: We want to develop the hydrogen business for thyssenkrupp. We are currently looking at various options. One conceivable option is an IPO of UCE. We are currently looking into this intensively and it would be a very interesting option that would make the value of this business visible for thyssenkrupp through the capital market listing and, as a side effect, generate additional funds for the growth of UCE.
Thank you very much. I'd like to put the last question to the Chief Human Resources Officer, Mr. Höllermann. 18,000 employees at Multi Tracks. That's a lot. We have learned, the situation is also infinitley complex. Nevertheless, the question: How would you assess the mood overall and how do you think you have to deal with the employees in such a situation? After all, it's strenuous for everyone.
Höllermann: You have already anticipated the answer a bit. The complexity is infinitley high. The 18,000 people are spread across different businesses. As I said before, we manage the return on investment in Elevator, where we have a stake in Elevator, where we now have people who have found their way forward in a different direction. But in the ten units that are operationally part of us, we have a wide variety of conditions. Some are on their way to new shores with new shareholders and will hopefully find correspondingly better conditions there for sustainable development of the business and jobs. Others are still in the final stages of restructuring and are certainly in a somewhat more difficult mood. And others – and this is the diversity at Multi Tracks – are currently working on their future with completely new things. An IPO and the independent positioning of a unit like Hydrogen is something completely new for many of us in the company, I think almost for the entire Group. But I would also like to point out that before the transition to Multi Tracks, many of these businesses were operating in very uncertain conditions. So for some of the employees, moving into a new partnership, into a new environment, to a shareholder who is more interested in the business and has more opportunities to develop it, also triggers positive moments. That is part of our business as well. Perhaps you will allow me to conclude with a comment on the leaders among these employees. For them, of course, it is a very special situation to be transferred to Multi Tracks. Suddenly they are torn away from their line of business, from the larger strategy, and have to take care of their unit strategically in addition to the operational side themselves. From that point of view, I have to tip my hat off to those who manage it, while also accepting that some don't want to go through with it. But it's not easy to stand there every day, man and woman, in the moments when we as Multi Tracks are also analyzing other ideas. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank the employees and leadership team very much.
Great respect to all employees and leaders for so actively playing their part. Thank you very much for the closing words. Mr. Dinstuhl, thank you very much to you as well. Many thanks also to our viewers at the screens. That was a new edition of we.talk. We'll be back, of course, again with exciting guests, with new topics. Bye from Essen.