Multi-Supervisory Board: What does ex-Siemens boss Peter Löscher actually do?
Munich Siemens? Not a word about Siemens! Why bother with the annoyances of the past when the present and the future offer so much inspiration.
That Peter Löscher, who acted as CEO of the Munich-based group from 2007 to 2013 and whose career there once abruptly remained incomplete after two profit warnings, presented by his cunning CFO and successor in the office of CEO, Joe Kaeser, is now at peace with himself, was often heard from close friends. And after a detailed conversation with the now 64-year-old, it is easy to actually believe this often heard story from former top managers in this particular case.
Tall, sporty and slim, full gray hair, green sweater over a small-checked shirt, says the Austrian in the warm tone of his Carinthian origin: “History is history, the only thing I suffer from is the travel restrictions as a result of Corona.”
Munich-Bogenhausen, at the end of November, in one of the many city villas that have been rededicated there for office purposes. Outside, winter is giving a first guest appearance of the season with snow and a lot of wind, the coronavirus has penetrated deep into the Bavarian capital with an incidence of over 400, but inside Löscher shines on waxed parquet and under a stucco-decorated ceiling and then accepts it only once This morning I put the name Siemens in my mouth: “When I was at Siemens, Munich became our home and will stay that way.”
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In view of the international nature of his current work and family life, that seems a bit surprising. Löscher once left Austria to work in Japan, Spain, Great Britain and North America. Today he holds supervisory board mandates in Spain (Telefonica), the Netherlands (Philips) and Switzerland (Sulzer), holds stakes in twelve start-ups (biotech and medical technology), mainly in California, a season ticket at FC Barcelona and is an advisory board member of the foundation Mozarteum in Salzburg.
And in Munich? He lives there with his wife and children and was a member of the University Council of the Technical University, which he made possible a chair in business ethics with 1.8 million euros years ago. “In normal times there were sometimes half a dozen flights a day from Munich to Barcelona, where my wife is from, and countless connections to the USA,” ideal as a location for his global family and professional activities.
At Sulzer there was a real bidding war with Siemens
On the one hand, there is the mandate as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Swiss industrial group Sulzer, where the Russian oligarch Wiktor Wekselberg lured him after he left Siemens. And where Löscher fought a veritable bidding war in 2014/2015 with, to be precise, Siemens for the Texan mechanical engineering company Dresser-Rand. Löscher lost to Kaeser again, and Dresser-Rand then weighed on Siemens’ figures for years. So a supposed defeat might not immediately turn into a victory, but still a touch of satisfaction, without Löscher – as mentioned at the beginning – wanting to talk about it.
But he would like to talk about why he does not want to extend his mandate at Sulzer at the annual general meeting this spring. “My work there is done, the company is in good shape. I also need more time for my other tasks and interests. “
There are the remaining supervisory board mandates at Telefonica (until 2024) and Philips (until 2026), which, as he says, take up 30 to 40 percent of his time. And there is his long-standing association with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), with which he has had close ties since his time at General Electric, where he worked in the medical technology division, and at the pharmaceutical company Merck from New Jersey. Löscher says: “Every year, just imagine, there are 100 to 200 spin-offs in the fields of medical technology and pharmaceutical development at this one university alone.”
Participation in twelve start-ups
Löscher has now invested private money in twelve of these start-ups. He says: “I only get on board if the chemistry between the founder and me is right and I can bring added value to the company in terms of content.” To do this, you have to get to know the founders and hold discussions on site – which is currently difficult given the travel restrictions .
Löscher emphasizes that he always only invests as a minority shareholder, because he says: “The success of a company must always primarily belong to the founders, and they must therefore maintain a majority in control, especially during the start-up phase.”
He is particularly proud of two of his investments. There is the company Visby Medical, which originally developed PCR tests for the detection of sexually transmitted diseases, but which quickly launched a corona PCR device – including test results in 28 minutes, as Löscher emphasizes. Meanwhile, the company is valued at billions as a so-called unicorn.
Looking for new investments, especially in California
And there is the company GT Medical Technologies, which has developed a new therapy for the treatment of brain tumors that significantly increases survival time, as Löscher says. “From an average of nine months to almost 17.”
Driven by these “success stories”, he is constantly looking for new, interesting investments, mostly in California and rarely in Germany, although he praises the Mainz Biontech story as a “real miracle” and as a person “deepest gratitude” for the development of the vaccine feels. “That is really great, but I just don’t know my way around the German market as well as I do in the USA, so I haven’t made a stake here yet.”
In addition to all these activities, music and football also have a certain time-consuming abundance in Löscher’s life. As a member of the Salzburg Mozarteum, he takes care of concerts and museums related to the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Löscher sees developments at FC Barcelona with concern
And then there is especially FC Barcelona, where his father-in-law Agusti Montal and his father were once presidents. He sees the development of the club with a certain amount of concern, especially with a view to the immensely high level of debt. “For one thing, the club recently brought in too many overpriced players. On the other hand, the club has worked for too long with a fair weather model that was not at all prepared for the negative economic consequences of the pandemic. ”
The result: Top stars like Lionel Messi had to be surrendered, the club is slipping into a sporty crisis and the balance sheet is colored blood red. “The whole family suffers with us, but it doesn’t help. The club has to work its way out. ”
He recommends that the tour take a look at Munich, where he praises the economic work of FC Bayern in the highest tones: “Sporty top, financially serious and solid.”
But he has hope. Under the new coach Xavier Hernandez, “Xavi”, things are already looking up again. The trainer is increasingly relying – as it always was in the golden years under coaches like Pep Guardiola – on highly talented young players, preferably from their own youth. “When I look at Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati, then I am sure that we will soon have a lot of fun with the club again.”
A joy that will probably never come back to him in his memory of Siemens. Not even when his power-conscious successor Kaeser, apparently with a touch of “mild age”, as a Siemensian puts it, exceptionally publicly and positively expressed in a podcast on the media portal Pioneer about the work of his predecessor at Siemens.
When asked about Kaeser’s statements there, Löscher shrugs his shoulders and says: “What did he say exactly? I didn’t notice anything. “
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