HANOVER, Germany (March 27, 2009)—Continental A.G.'s supervisory board has picked Rolf Koerfer, a partner with the international law firm Allen & Overy L.L.P. and an adviser to Conti's largest shareholder and industrial partner Schaeffler Group, as its chairman.
Koerfer, 51, replaces Hubertus von Gruenberg, who quit as chairman on March 6 after opposing a merger of the automotive units of Continental and Schaeffler.
Koerfer is a mergers and acquisitions specialist partner at Allen & Overy in that firm's office in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Schaeffler faces a financial crunch after going deeply into debt to take over Continental, which is three times larger. Schaeffler borrowed about $20 billion to finance the takeover.
The company is now paying about $93 million each month in interest on its debt and has had trouble paying the high debt service payments because of the automobile industry crisis.
Co-owner Georg Schaeffler said last month that the group needed up to $8 billion in fresh financing and urged the German government to help.
Schaeffler, which controls 49.9 percent of Continental's shares directly and another 40-plus percent indirectly, nominated Koerfer in January to be Conti's chairman.
Earlier this month, a German court stopped the appointment after a complaint from a member of Germany's corporate governance commission that Koerfer may have a conflict of interest. The court later lifted the ban.