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Business

Franz quits Lufthansa for Roche pharmaceuticals

Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz will leave Germany’s biggest airline at the end of his contract next year. He quits amid a major restructuring program and plans to become chairman of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche.

Christoph Franz had decided not to renew his existing contract once it expires in May 2014, German airline Lufthansa announced on Monday.

Franz, who headed Germany's flagship carrier since 2011, was not available for an extension of his contract, Lufthansa said in a statement, following media speculation at the weekend about his imminent resignation.

Christoph Franz leaves Lufthansa in the midst of a major restructuring program aimed at boosting the airline's earnings by 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) annually by 2015. Suffering from high fuel prices and low-cost competition, Lufthansa plans to slash 3,500 jobs from a total of 117,000 by then.

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The 53-year-old chief executive was nominated to join Swiss pharmaceuticals company Roche as new chairman of the supervisory board.

On Monday, Roche said that Franz, who was already a board member of the firm, would replace current chairman Franz Humer, who planned to retire next year.

Franz said he was delighted to join Roche, which he admired for its strong business performance and corporate culture.

“Strategically, Roche is in very good shape, and I'm looking forward to taking on this opportunity,” Franz said in a statement.

At Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, chief of the airline's passage unit, was hotly tipped to succeed Franz as chief executive, German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Monday.

uhe/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)

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