ROUNDUP 2: Boss Tui Joussen resigns – CFO takes over | News

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HANNOVER (dpa-AFX) – After ten years with the world’s largest travel provider TUI, CEO Fritz Joussen unexpectedly resigns. The manager will resign on September 30, the Hanover-based company announced on Friday. The current CFO Sebastian Ebel is to be succeeded. The Joussen agreement would run until September 2025. The manager took over the leadership of Tui from longtime CEO Michael Frenzel and restructured the group. Nonetheless, Tui needed billions of state aid during the corona crisis to keep him from collapsing. It is unclear what the Duisburg resident will do after he was the boss of Tui.

The skilled electrical engineer was the head of the German branch of the Vodafone telecommunications group (Vodafone Group) for years, joined Tui in 2012 and became CEO the following year. Even then, Tui was financially back to the wall. When Joussen took over the management of the company, he had to reorganize the finances. At the end of 2014, he managed to merge with a subsidiary of the tour operator Tui Travel, previously listed in London – a transaction that his predecessor Frenzel failed to complete. This allowed the group to make significant savings, invest and reorient its business by focusing on hotels and cruise lines. In addition, Joussen drove digitization Next.

The pandemic eventually plunged the entire industry into a deep crisis. “The survival of Tui has been questioned for many,” wrote Joussen on Friday in a letter to his employees. In 2020 and 2021, the federal government supported the group through an economic stabilization fund of more than one billion euros and billions of credit lines from the state-owned bank KfW.

In the meantime, the group gradually melts the help, incl. through capital increases, and focuses on the joy of summer travel. In May, Joussen promised that Tui would be profitable again this fiscal year – which ends on the day he leaves – at least in his day-to-day operations. The company boasts that not only is demand recovering, but vacationers are also booking longer vacations and more expensive hotels.

In a letter to employees, Joussen referred primarily to the rescue of the company from the Corona crisis. “The decision is not easy for me,” wrote the 59-year-old. However, he is convinced that now is the right time for a change at the top. The existential crisis has been overcome. Joussen is exercising the “right to opt out” granted in connection with the requirements of the Corona stabilization measures.

Supervisory board chairman Dieter Zetsche said the conversion, digital transformation and saving Tui during the corona crisis were lasting merits. “The board regrets Fritz Joussen’s decision – and I regret it too.” The news was also badly received on the stock exchange. After the Tui stock started trading profitably, its price fell almost four percent after it was announced. In the afternoon, the fall in prices in Frankfurt was about three and a half percent.

Zetsche praised Ebl’s previous chief financial officer as an excellent cast. Over the years, he was responsible, inter alia, for hotels and cruises. Former auditor and former investment banker Mathias Kiep is set to become the new chief financial officer.

Ebel has known Tui for decades: he worked from the late 90s as a department director and later as group director and returned to the workshop network after intermediate stations TRUMP and Vodafone returned to the travel group shortly after Joussen’s launch in 2013. “He is extremely enterprising and has clear strategic and operational claims to the growth of Tui,” said Zetsche of the 59-year-old business economist.

There were also praises for his successor from the departing boss: “Sebastian focuses on reliability and continuity and enjoys great trust in the company among our business partners and investors” – wrote Joussen in his letter. Ebel will be working on debt reduction and balance sheet strengthening from day one.

Industry expert Richard Clarke of research firm Bernstein sees no major changes in the recent announcements of debt relief and further restructuring of Tui compared to earlier statements from the management board. Ebel takes over Tui in a situation where the company has survived the worst consequences of the pandemic. While the number of bookings has improved, Clarke believes management still needs to make tough decisions to counter the current problems in European travel and restructure the group’s balance sheet./sey/stw/DP/ngu

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