Rolf Habben-Jansen, who has been chief executive of Damco, the freight forwarding arm of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, since 2009, will become chairman of the executive board of Hapag-Lloyd on July 1, 2014, and the line's new chief executive officer.
He will succeed CEO Michael Behrendt, who has been CEO of Hapag-Lloyd since 2002 and a member of the executive board since 1999.
After he steps down as CEO, Behrendt is scheduled to return to the company in 2015 to become supervisory board chairman of the company, succeeding Jürgen Weber, former supervisory-board chairman of Deutsche Lufthansa who has headed Hapag-Lloyd’s supervisory board since 2012.
Hapag-Lloyd also announced Ulrich Kranich, its chief operating officer and another member of the three-man Hapag-Lloyd executive board, will leave the company as planned at the end of next June and be replaced by Anthony J. Firmin, who has worked at Hapag-Lloyd for 18 years. Firmin is currently a member of the executive committee – the extended circle of management below the executive board – and is currently in charge of yield management and network.
“The supervisory board is certain that the appointment of Rolf Habben-Jansen and Anthony J. Firmin is a superb choice for the company. Both of them have many years of experience in the logistics and shipping sectors. It puts Hapag-Lloyd in an excellent position for the future,” Weber said.
“I am delighted with the supervisory board’s decision to appoint Rolf Habben-Jansen as my successor. Habben-Jansen is a manager who will successfully confront the major challenges in international liner shipping,” added Behrendt.
Habben-Jansen’s appointment is a “big surprise,” said one source familiar with the company.
A Dutchman, Habben-Jansen came to Damco from DHL where he was head of global customer solutions. He was responsible for the account management and growth of the top 100 customers across all of DHL's business units since 2006. Before that, he headed up the contract logistics activities of DHL in most of mainland Europe since 2001.
In the 1990s, he held various senior positions in Nedlloyd and Danzas, both of which were merged into DHL later.
Habben-Jansen is the second Maersk executive to be named to the top management of Hapag-Lloyd in recent years. Jesper Praestengaard was named chief commercial officer at the beginning of 2011, but left Hapag-Lloyd in June.
Habben-Jansen, 47, will join the Hapag-Lloyd executive board of the company on April 1, 2014, and after spending three months familiarizing himself with the company, will take over as CEO.
Hapag-Lloyd said the appointment “ensures continuity within its executive management” and a source told American Shipper
that succession planning has been a weakness at the company.
It’s unclear if Habben-Jansen’s background in forwarding and non-vessel-operating common carrier business signals any increased interest in the logistics business by the German liner company.