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June 3, 2019 4:45 PM, EDT

Haldex Names Helene Svahn CEO

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Commercial vehicle supplier Haldex appointed Helene Svahn CEO, effective immediately.

Also, the Landskrona, Sweden-based company reported higher first-quarter net income and revenue amid slightly weaker market conditions.

New Haldex CEO Helene Svahn

Svahn

Svahn succeeds Åke Bengtsson, who has been CEO at Haldex since the 2017 bidding process with Knorr-Bremse AG, which attempted to acquire Haldex.

“I am convinced that there is more to give and therefore look forward to adding to the existing business,” Svahn said. “With that said, we have a previously set revenue goal at a 10% margin, and in order for it to be achieved, the company needs to become more efficient.”

Svahn will assume full control of the post Aug. 12, when Deputy CEO Staffan Olsson will relinquish daily operations.

Outgoing Haldex CEO Åke Bengtsson

Bengtsson

“The board would like to extend their appreciation to Åke for the work he has done, in particular with the tough task of steering the company through the turbulent bidding process of 2017,” Chairman Jörgen Durban said in a company release. “However, as the company is now accelerating, both in regards to new technology and the current core business, there is a need for a new kind of leadership.”

Svahn has a background in academia and business. She is a member of the Haldex board and leads its technical committee. She is also a professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Most recently, she was senior vice president of research and innovation at Permobil.

“We are set on becoming a top-of-mind partner for industry leaders, and therefore it is necessary that we increase our focus on new technology while also increasing the margins of our pre-existing business,” Durban said.

Haldex was founded in 1887. It manufactures commercial vehicle air disc brakes, brake adjusters and brake pads, plus air suspension control valves and air treatment products, among other items.

Haldex logo

Efforts to acquire Haldex began in July 2016 when ZF Friedrichshafen AG outbid SAF-Holland SA. Then Knorr-Bremse replaced ZF with a bid of about $540 million for Haldex. By Sept. 2017, Knorr-Bremse had withdrawn its bid amid regulatory opposition.

During that uncertainty about whether or not the company would be acquired, the Haldex board said two contracts “relating to two major truck and trailer manufacturers with an annual contract value of $17 million and $8 million, respectively, have now been lost without possibility to re-enter the process.” Also, specialists and key employees have left the company, including hard-to-replace engineers who had been involved in research and development.

At the time, Bloomberg News reported the battle over Haldex was part of a broader push by parts makers to combine to share development costs amid an industry shift toward self-driving and electric-vehicle technologies.

“I see the shift that the industry is facing, leaving a client-supplier relationship for one that relies on collaboration, in a positive light. Haldex has an opportunity to take a larger share on the market through initiating and launching new collaborations. I started working towards this already as a member of the board, and I am looking forward to accelerate the pace going forward as CEO,” Svahn said.

For the period ended March 31, Haldex —which reports in Swedish krona — said its net income was the approximate equivalent of $7.2 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $6.1 million, or 14 cents in the comparable year-ago period. Revenue was $142 million compared with $133 million a year earlier.