Helmar Franz, a longtime executive at Chinese injection molding machine maker Haitian International Holdings Ltd. and a prominent figure in the German plastics machinery industry, retired from his operational positions at Haitian effective Oct. 2, the company announced.
Franz, chief strategy officer for the Ningbo, China-based company, will remain on Haitian's 12-member board in a non-executive role but will give up his executive roles in the firm because he is 65 years old, the company said.
“Franz will continue to act in the capacity of non-executive director of the board and serve as a strategic consultant to the group,” Haitian said in an announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where the company is listed.
“The board of Haitian International thanks [Franz] for 10 years of engaged and devoted work in developing and implementing strategies that helped Haitian International become a sustainable worldwide market leader,” the company said in an Oct. 5 statement. “Haitian International is looking forward to continuing a long-lasting, successful cooperation with Professor Franz in the future.”
Haitian said responsibility for the company's strategic development will now be led by Zhang Jianming, executive director and CEO of Haitian International.
“The other operational responsibilities previously under Prof. Franz's direction in research and development, export markets and marketing will be assumed by the respective top management members,” the company said.
During Franz's time with Haitian, it grew from $320 million in sales in 2005 to $1.21 billion last year, and into one of the two or three largest injection machine makers in the world, by sales. The company also established operations worldwide, including in Brazil, Turkey and Germany.
As well, the Ningbo-based company took the very unusual step for a Chinese machinery firm and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in 2006.
Franz has been a regular fixture at global plastics trade shows, and began his career in plastics machinery in 1972, at East Germany's Plastmaschinenwerk Schwerin, working up to senior executive jobs in research and marketing.
After working for Berlin-based WWW Import-Export managing sales in Iraq, Egypt and Russia, in 1991 Franz joined German press maker Demag Ergotech.
He first ran Demag's Moscow sales and service office, and then headed the company's factory for making smaller-sized presses in Wiehe, Germany, before being named Demag's chairman in 1999.
He held that position until 2005, also serving as chairman of the German plastics machinery association VDMA from 2003 to 2005, before leaving to work for Haitian and set up Zhafir Plastics Machinery GmbH in Ebermannsdorf, Germany.
Zhafir became a subsidiary of Haitian in 2007, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Haitian in 2014.
Haitian and Demag had a joint venture in China that ended in 2005.
Franz will receive a director's fee of 196,000 Chinese yuan ($30,788) annually by Haitian for his work on the board, for an initial three-year term, along with fringe benefits in accordance with company policy and market conditions, the company told the Hong Kong exchange.
Franz also has a 0.51 percent equity interest in a company called Sky Treasure Capital Ltd., which is Haitian's controlling shareholder. Sky Treasure has 959 million shares of Haitian stock, giving it 60.1 percent of the issued shares of Haitian, the company told the Hong Kong market.