Blackstone to Oust Leica CEO Schopf

Andreas Kaufmann (L) and Alfred Schopf (R), former CEO of Leica Camera AG.

Manager Magazine Online in Germany has an interesting article called "Blackstone to End Cozniness at Camera Manufacturer Leica" (in German) which could mean is the end for current CEO Alfred Schopf. The recent Head of Marketing Leica hired, Oliver Kaltner - is tipped to take the reigns.

You may recall that the Blackstone Group acquired a 44% minority share of Leica Camera AG in October 2011, which they paid more than 140 million Euros for - about what Kaufmann had invested in Leica, and who still holds the remaining stake. Part of the deal stated that, after Leica Camera AG was internationalized - which has essentially happened - provides an exit clause for Blackstone, including the possibility of an IPO. These details were revealed in an interview with Kaufmann back in December 2013. So there may be more changes coming.

The article translated to English (via Google):

For a long time the camera manufacturer Leica could produce as an example of peaceful symbiosis between family businesses and financial investor. Now installed minority owner Blackstone a new boss at the top of the traditional company.

The traditional Leica has experienced in its history many CEO. Sometimes, the dwell time of the respective chiefs reached less than two years. Was seen as Alfred Schopf (57), the major exception: Since the summer of 2010, he bravely fought his way to the top.

But now the era Schopf seems to be over. In company he is no longer to be found, he allegedly called in sick. His successor has already been Oliver Kaltner (46), who took over the sales and marketing last fall by the Leica Board.

The changing of the guard in the Wetzler Center provides surprise when industry insiders, because the company did well in the last few years ahead. 2004, when the grown rich by inheritance former Waldorf teacher Andreas Kaufmann (61) boarding at Leica, got the camera manufacturer shortly before the Ruin. Kaufmann put much money into the development of new products and led the company's 2010 return to profitability. 2012 was a merchant from 45 percent of its shares to the private-equity firm Blackstone, the majority is to this day with him. He is also continuing to the Supervisory Board.

Blackstone Germany, Axel Herberg (57) was the chairman merchant and whose first husband Schopf first large margin. Obviously, he has however since changed his attitude. Insider want to know that it was Herberg, the merchant urged to detachment of hair. Maybe he expects the future CEO Kaltner even more dynamic and higher profits. The man can Blackstone hostel also use so well because his other Germany-Engagment, the outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin, duly weakens.

It is questionable, however, whether the equally brash as nimble Kaltner who has previously worked among others at Microsoft and Sony, fits into the contemplative culture of Leica. In his previous employers had endured not always long the economist. It's quite possible that he is only a manageable guest performance even with Leica.

Oliver Kaltner, who took over as Head of Marketing last fall - is likely to be Leica Camera's next CEO.

Olivier Kaltner

Update (03/03/15):

Well, seems it's now official - here's the press release from Leica Camera AG:

Oliver Kaltner is appointed CEO of Leica Camera AG

The Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG has appointed Oliver Kaltner (46) as the new chairman of the executive board with effect from 1 April 2015.

Alfred Schopf, chairman of the Executive Board of Leica Camera AG since August 2010 and responsible for the divisions Product Management, Sport Optics, Customer Care and Public Relations, will be leaving the company at his own request at the end of the financial year on 31 March 2015 to turn his attentions to new professional challenges. He will remain at Leica in an advisory capacity until the end of 2015.

Alfred Schopf was an active member of the Supervisory Board at Leica from November 2009 to August 2010. Prior to this, he held a number of executive positions in various companies in the optical and optoelectronics industry, amongst these as CEO of ARRI in Munich and chairman of the Board at Jenoptik AG.

Oliver Kaltner has been a member of the Executive Board at Leica Camera AG since 1 September 2014 and has been responsible for the divisions Marketing, Sales and Retail; he has also been in charge of the development of retail and sales partnerships. He has amassed extensive experience in managerial functions and brand management in the consumer electronics and IT segments. Most recently, he held the position of General Manager at Microsoft Deutschland GmbH. In this position, he was responsible for the Consumer Channels Group and successfully boosted its revenues and profitability. As a member of the Board of Directors, he was in charge of the restructuring of Microsoft Deutschland GmbH to establish it as a Devices & Services organisation and was also responsible for the further development of the entire change management process for the consumer business sector. Other stages of his professional career saw him assume executive and managerial positions at prominent corporations such as Sky AG, Sony Deutschland GmbH, Electronic Arts GmbH and Nike GmbH.

‘I deeply regret that Alfred Schopf has decided to resign from his position, particularly as he played an instrumental role in navigating Leica through the troubled waters of recent years.’ Thanks to his extensive expertise and greatly admired style of leadership, he was able to make a significant contribution to the constant growth and, in turn, the success of the company. In addition to numerous important product launches and the return to the new corporate headquarters in Wetzlar, he was also a driving force behind the global expansion of the Leica Stores. In the words of Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the Supervisory Board at Leica Camera AG: ‘I would like to express my thanks to Alfred Schopf for the enormous contribution he has made and wish him all the best for whatever the future may bring. I am also pleased that he will remain with us for a time in an advisory capacity.

‘At the same time, I am pleased to have found such an outstanding successor to him in Oliver Kaltner – a man with outstanding strategic and business acumen and an exceptional instinct for innovation, whose enormous commitment and obvious passion for the brand has already led to considerable success in terms of growth, transformation and digitalisation only a very short time after joining the company.’ Dr Kaufmann adds: ‘The Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG has expressed its complete confidence in Oliver Kaltner, and I personally wish him every success in the important task of leading a company as steeped in tradition as Leica into the future.’