Siemens, the quintessentially German engineering group, is planning to hold the bulk of its senior management meetings in English in further evidence of the impact of globalization on German companies.
Klaus Kleinfeld, the new chief executive who takes over from Heinrich von Pierer on Jan. 28, is said by close colleagues to want board meetings eventually to take place in English -- with simultaneous translation -- even though there is only one non-German, an Israeli, on the management board.
Siemens, in which 56 percent of the equity is held outside Germany, is following in the footsteps of companies such as RWE and E.ON, which have extensive utility interests in both the UK and US and conduct all business in English.
Only 20 percent of Siemens business is in Germany, while it employs 65,000 people in the US alone, compared with 164,000 in its domestic market -- far fewer than before. It is understood that the group, which yesterday reported a 23 percent rise in net income to 3 billion euros (US$3.8 billion), is seeking to attract overseas executives to sit on its main and supervisory boards; several of its top 500 managers are already non-Germans, including those running regional businesses.