Ask chief executives to make controversial public statements about their core business and they tend to be shy. I know this because I spent a few years trying to coax them into print as editor of the FT’s comment page. But provide them with an opening to tell the world about their sustainability initiatives and they are often impossible to shut up.
By buying Siemens out of their telecommunications network joint venture, Nokia has strengthened the part of its business that is doing relatively well. But it does little to stop the rise of China within the industry.
The telecoms network industry is under extreme margin pressure and Huawei and ZTE, the two Chinese competitors, continue to expand their share. Meanwhile, both Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent have struggled.
Siemens is no longer in stormy seas. That at least is the message from the art in its chief executive’s office.
A gloomy picture of a stormy sea long hung in the German group’s headquarters. In his first interview as head of Siemens two years ago, Peter Löscher told me he wanted to banish the picture and replace it with work from his private collection. Subsequent visits to his office showed Europe’s largest engineering group still to be in the midst of rough weather (at least to lazy journalists in need of a metaphor).
The number of German companies embroiled in serious bribery allegations continues to grow: we have had Volkswagen, then Siemens, MAN and now Daimler.
But the preponderance of heavyweight industrial names leads to one to wonder about why so many German companies have recently become caught up in corruption scandals. Put simply: are German businesses more corrupt than others?