Dr Degenhart (61) has headed Continental for more than 11 years. In a statement, he said he had asked the company’s board to accept his early termination of his executive board directorship and his contract, which would have run until August 11, 2024.
Supervisory board chairman Professor Wolfgang Reitzle will now hold a board meeting to decide on the appointment of Dr Degenhart’s successor.
Under Dr Degenhart’s leadership, Continental has embarked on a transformation from a tyre manufacturer and automotive supplier to a technology and software mobility company.
Continental owns brands including Motorola automotive electronics, Siemens VDO, rubber company Phoenix, and outside of automotive supplies tyres for bicycles and the rubber soles for Adidas running shoes.
In Australia, aside from its product range that bears its name, Continental in 2018 bought the Kmart Tyre and Auto repair chain from Wesfarmers Ltd for $350 million and rebranded it as MyCar.
In his statement, Dr Degenhart said: “I was recently made aware of the importance of immediately giving precautionary measures for my health the utmost priority when it comes to planning my personal life.
“I would have clearly preferred to continue working on our structural realignment, our profitable growth and viability enhancement program.
“And I would have loved to enjoy the future success this will bring, especially since we have just recently prepared for it by making the most difficult decisions and setting the decisive course. But in consideration of the health-related advice that I received, I am now setting other priorities.”
Dr Degenhart, who holds a doctorate in engineering, has been CEO of the company since August 12, 2009, and is currently in his third term. He is directly responsible for group communications, group strategy, group total quality management and the start-up program co-pace.
He said it had been “a pleasure and an honor for me to have been at the helm of Continental and leading its accelerated turnaround and profitable growth.”
“I would like to thank our customers for the trust they have placed in me as well as our shareholders, the supervisory board, my fellow executive board members, my personal team and the global Continental team for their great support, utmost commitment and impressive performance over the past more than eleven years.
“I am convinced that the Continental team will enjoy great success in the future thanks to its unique values and network culture and driven by its new strategy.”
Chairman Prof. Reitzle acknowledged Degenhart’s achievements and praised his “outstanding performance, exemplary leadership and excellent track record.”
“We all deeply regret Dr. Degenhart’s decision and his resignation,” he said.
“However, we respect his personal wish and understand the reasons behind it. When he took office in August 2009, Dr Degenhart and his team led the company out of a situation that threatened its very existence and brought it back into the DAX 30 Index and to an industry-wide top position.
“Under his leadership, Continental’s debt was significantly reduced to a normal level, its equity capital strengthened and its previous high investment grade fully restored.”
By Neil Dowling