Berlin chooses Grube as new Deutsche Bahn chief | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 02.04.2009
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Berlin chooses Grube as new Deutsche Bahn chief

Daimler manager Ruediger Grube has been nominated as the new head of German national railway Deutsche Bahn. Grube will replace Hartmut Mehdorn, who resigned his post amid a spreading industrial-spying scandal.

A portrait of Ruediger Grube

Critics moan that Grube doesn't have a railroad industry background

German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said that he would nominate Grube as head of Deutsche Bahn, confirming earlier rumors.

A government statement said the nomination has already been approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who head the government's two main coalition parties.

Grube is also expected to be approved by the Deutsche Bahn supervisory board as head of the railway's logistics unit.

The 57-year-old manager is currently responsible for company strategy at automaker Daimler. He is also on the board of directors at European aircraft manufacturer EADS.

Close ties to Mehdorn

Grube's nomination as the future head of Deutsche Bahn follows Monday's resignation of Hartmut Mehdorn, who was unable to end discussions on whether the company spied on employees' emails from 2005 to 2008, and whether it blocked messages from unions during a 2007 labor dispute.

Meanwhile, a separate spying scandal is unfolding at EADS unit Airbus. Airbus Germany has admitted to spying on its employees, comparing their account numbers with those of suppliers, in what it called an attempt to fight corruption.

Grube has close business ties to Mehdorn, having served as his office manager at another company. The possibility Grube could become the successor to his former boss drew immediate protest from the opposition Green Party.

"This is not a new beginning, Mrs. Merkel," Green parliamentary leader Renate Kuenast told news agency reporters on Tuesday, when rumors of the appointment first surfaced. "With Mehdorn's former assistant, there's the threat of more of the same."

Grube's background has drawn criticism from people hoping someone with a background in the rail industry would take over Deutsche Bahn.

"After ten years of Mehdorn, there's no need for another would-be high-flyer from the aeronautics sector," Kuenast told reporters.

Would-be high flyer?

Hartmut Mehdorn offering his resignation

Mehdorn left his post under pressure over a spy scandal

But beyond being an associate of Mehdorn, who is Ruediger Grube?

Born in the northern German city of Hamburg, his career began with an apprenticeship in airplane construction. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he began working for Daimler's aeronautics division as well as for Airbus. He has been on Daimler's board of directors since 2001 and a top EADS executive for the past year and a half.

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