Switzerland's ABB will choose a chief executive by mid-June, with the head of one of its automation units and the boss of German consumer goods group Henkel the front runners, a Swiss magazine reported.
The Zurich-based industrial goods group is searching for a new CEO after Joe Hogan announced unexpectedly that he planned to leave the company for private reasons.
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Without citing sources, Swiss weekly business magazine Bilanz said ABB had narrowed its list of candidates down to Ulrich Spiesshofer, who heads its Discrete Automation and Motion (DAM) division and Kasper Rorsted, chief executive of Henkel.
A spokesman for ABB declined to comment.
"This information is not correct," said a spokesman for Henkel, who did not wish to comment further.
Bilanz said ABB Chairman Hubertus von Gruenberg was leading the search supported by Hans Ulrich Maerki, chair of the governance and nominations committee, and would take a decision by mid-June.
Spiesshofer, a German national, joined ABB in 2005 as head of corporate development and has led its DAM division, which makes industrial robots, since 2010.
Rorsted, a Dane, has been CEO of Henkel since 2008. When he took over his task was to increase Henkel's operating profit margin - earnings as a percentage of sales - to 14 percent. He achieved that on time in 2012 with a result of 14.1 percent.
Last November, he set out a four-year strategy to increase sales at the group, the German maker of Persil washing powder and Schwarzkopf hair products, to 20 billion euros ($25.6 billion) by 2016.
ABB, banking on a global energy efficiency drive to increase demand for its products, has splashed out on acquisitions under Hogan. But it has been hampered by the sluggish global economy in recent quarters and is pushing through cost-saving measures.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley. Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Frankfurt.; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford and Jane Merriman)