ACS sends heavyweight to cut Hochtief’s Australian hemorrhage

MADRID | Marcelino Fernández Verdes was appointed Thursday chief operating officer of Hochtief, the German division of the Spanish group ACS. Fernández will sit at the executive committee of Hochtief (Vorstand) with CEO Frank Stieler and CFO Peter Sassenfeld. He will address risk management operations of the entire group Hochtief, but will also face the responsibility of breaking the spiralling downward trend its Australian branch Leighton has fallen into.

The move is widely seen in Madrid as ACS chairman Florentino Pérez’ reaction against the shock effect of Hochtief’s results on the corporation’s balance sheet. Moreover, rumours suggested that Pérez would have asked Francisco Javier García, vice-president at Volkswagen and the most influential Spanish executive in the German industry, for help to introduced a Madrid-elected heavyweight in the company.

Marcelino Fernández Verdes had been president of Dragados and responsible for the area of ​​concessions and environmental services at ACS. The firm’s released said about his professional record that Fernández

“has achieved extensive experience in international development, reaching with its results the best ratios in the industry. Incorporating Marcelino Fernández will significantly contribute to the strengthening of Hochtief as a global leader in infrastructure construction.”

Manfred Wennemer, chairman of the board at Hochtief, emphasised his figures, too:

“Marcelino Fernández Greens will bring us more experience in international construction. Under his leadership, Dragados has become a company with high profits and international sales have quadrupled reaching €2 billion euros in four years, most of them being generated in America.”

Marcelino Fernández will start his new career in Hochtief AG as of April 15.

In 2011, ACS Group achieved a total turnover of €28.472 billion, a 98.7% increase over the prior year. International sales accounted for €20.649 billion or 72.5% of the total, and almost multiplied by four over the prior year. The gross operating profit (ebitda) climbed 61.9% to €2.318 billion with a sales margin of 8.1%. The earnings before income and taxes grew by 28.3% to reach €1.333 billion with a sales margin of 4.7%.

The recurring net profit, the profit from continuous activities excluding any extraordinary results and capital gains from asset sell-offs, increased 8.8% to €951 million. The company stated last February that the impact of the negative results of Hochtief in the first quarter of 2011 was €76 million.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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