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Mariel Von Drathen
In December Siemens agreed to pay a record €1.3 billion to European and U.S. authorities to settle charges stemming from a corruption scandal in which the Munich-based manufacturing giant was accused of bribing officials in countries across the globe to win massive public works contracts.
Head of Investor Relations
In December Siemens agreed to pay a record 1.3 billion to European and U.S. authorities to settle charges stemming from a corruption scandal in which the Munich-based manufacturing giant was accused of bribing officials in countries across the globe to win massive public works contracts. The lengthy government investigations Germany launched its probe in 2005, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission followed suit in 2006 and the staggering fine would seem to be more than enough to scare away shareholders.
Quite the opposite. Investors on both the buy and sell sides are impressed with the way Siemens management handled the situation and credit the company with providing Europes Best Investor Relations in Electronic & Electrical Equipment.
Mariel von Drathen, a ten-year Siemens veteran who became head of investors relations in February after serving as managing director of mergers and acquisitions in the corporate finance department, says the company recognized that it needed to work more closely with shareholders.
We have really made an effort to reach out to investors over the past few years, says von Drathen. Even if its not comparable with the financial crisis, we cant forget that Siemens has gone through an internal crisis. So, its important that we have more frequent meetings with investors. It is important to us to increase transparency.
Investors applaud the companys efforts. Theres been a significant improvement in transparency on the reporting side, says Dragos Stefanescu, a portfolio manager for the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. If you look at their disclosure, you get everything you want to assess the performance of the business. Before, it was very opaque.
Von Drathen also helped to streamline the company from more than a dozen business divisions to just three Energy and the Environment, Health Care and Industry with a clearer focus, strict performance guidelines and a commitment to improving shareholder value.
Still, times have been tough. Siemens share price plummeted 50.7 percent last year and dropped a further 15.3 percent year-to-date through March 31. Last month the company warned that operating profit for fiscal 2009, which ends September 30, will likely fall short of the 8 billion to 8.5 billion it originally forecast.
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