France

France

Engie will not renew CEO Kocher's contract

Engie has decided against reappointing CEO Isabelle Kocher when her contract runs out in May 2020, explaining that “further development of the group’s strategy requires a new leadership”.

Isabelle Kocher took over as Engie CEO in May 2016
Isabelle Kocher took over as Engie CEO in May 2016

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The French utility also said the group needs to clarify its strategy for transitioning from fossil fuel-based production, and boost its business model in renewable energies and client solutions.

Engie needs to address nuclear’s role in Belgium and natural gas’ in France, it added.

Chairman Jean-Pierre Clamadieu is now leading the hunt for the utility’s next CEO, while an interim management team of board members runs the company following Kocher’s departure.

In an interview with French newspaper Les Echos, Clamadieu explained the board blamed Kocher for Engie “falling behind over four years in the area of electricity generation and gas infrastructure, which now represents 80% of our profits”.

Engie’s stock price opened at €15.63 on 7 February — down from the previous close of €15.71/share — following the announcement. Its shares continued to fall as low as €15.51.

It is due to release its full-year results as planned on 27 February.

Kocher took over as CEO in May 2016 and was the first woman to head one of France’s top-40 listed companies.

She launched a programme of decarbonisation, digitalisation and decentralisation, and has overseen the sale or closure of coal- and oil-fired generation plants, while investing in wind, solar and gas during her tenure.

Engie's operational renewables portfolio - including hydroelectric power - has increased by about 20% since 2016 to 26.9GW, a spokeswoman advised.

At its most recent capital markets day in February 2019, Engie announced €11-12 billion spending plans for the next three years, with its renewables business due to receive the second biggest proportion of this — €2.3-2.8 billion or 19-25% — with only its client solutions unit receiving more.

It also announced plans to add 9GW of new renewables capacity between 2019 and 2021.

When it last released its financial results in November 2019, Engie had installed, secured or was building 8.8GW of new renewables capacity — just shy of its 2021 target.

Engie has stakes in 5.5GW of operational onshore wind capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.

The utility has also moved into offshore wind, forming a 50:50 joint venture with Portuguese counterpart EDP Renewables earlier this year, with a target of 5-7GW of operational or under-construction projects and 5-10GW at an advanced state of development by 2025.

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