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German auto parts maker execs resign after Chinese acquisition


Members of the executive board of German parts manufacturer Grammer AG have resigned following the company's acquisition by its Chinese joint venture partner Jiye Auto Parts GmbH.

In a September 24 statement, the Amberg, Germany-based Grammer said long-standing CEO Hartmut Müller, as well as Chief Financial Officer Gérard Cordonnier and Chief Operating Officer Manfred Pretscher, announced their plans to resign, citing their contractual change-of-control rights.

The move was in response to the acquisition of an additional 58.66 percent stake in Grammer by the Chinese-owned Jiye Auto Parts GmbH September 10.

Jiye Auto is a part of Ningbo Jifeng automotive group, which was already a 25.56 percent shareholder in Grammer. The company's recent successful tender offer raised the total of Jifeng's shareholding in Grammer to just under 85 percent.

Grammer had announced earlier in August that 48.45 percent of its shareholders had accepted Jiye Auto's offer, meaning Jinfeng would own 74 percent of Grammer.

"Due to the unexpectedly high acceptance rate of the takeover offer, the shareholder structure has shifted more clearly than expected," Grammer said in its September 24 release.

Müller said that by resigning, "I am giving the supervisory board and the major shareholder the possibility of making basic decisions on the company's future strategy regardless of myself and, in this way, of laying the necessary foundations."

Müller has been central to Grammer's success in becoming a leading automotive components supplier. He was behind the establishment of the strategic partnership with Ningbo Jifeng and the acquisition of the U.S. automotive components supplier TMD Group in May.

Cordonnier, Grammer CFO since 2015, and Pretscher, COO since 2010, also informed the supervisory board that they would be leaving the company for "personal reasons". The two executives will remain in their positions until the end of the year.

The company has confirmed that the agreement with Jiye Auto Parts will remain in force, regardless of changes to the executive board.

"This agreement contains extensive commitments for the preservation of the Grammer Group's national and international sites as well as broad-based undertakings towards all employees," the German automotive supplier said.

The Chinese company made its offer to buy Grammer's remaining shares at the end of May. The offer reportedly faced disagreement from the company's biggest shareholder, Cascade International Investment GmbH.

Based on the agreement reached between Grammer and Jifeng on May 29, Jiye Auto Parts would buy Grammer shares for a 19.4 percent premium over the closing price the day before, valuing the German company at 6.2 trillion Chinese yuan ($905 million).


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