MUNICH (Reuters) - Siemens' <SIEGn.DE> chief executive sees the German group as a fleet of ships, each thriving under its own steam, but rejects the idea he is breaking up the company, he told Manager Magazin in an interview published on Thursday.
Joe Kaeser said there need not be only one Siemens, looking ahead to a future in which the soon-to-be-listed Healthineers could grow bigger than the core industrial business, and said loosening central control could help operations thrive.
"Looking back, no one will ask who broke up what or built new, but rather only whether we made the company competitive for the next generation," he said. "We are not breaking anything up, we are building new companies."
Since taking over as CEO in 2013, Kaeser has carved out or divested several of the industrial group's businesses.
The most radical step so far is set to take place in the first half of next year, with the flotation of a minority in healthcare unit Healthineers, which is expected to value the business at around 40 billion euros ($47 billion).
The move is designed to enable the business to raise its own funds for acquisitions and investments in the fast-changing healthcare sector as well as crystallizing its standalone market value, removing some of the "conglomerate discount" that weighs on Siemens' valuation.
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Siemens shares are broadly flat this year to date, underperforming the Stoxx European capital goods index <.SXNP>.
In the past year, Siemens has merged its wind-power business with Spain's Gamesa in a joint venture <SGREN.MC> and agreed to create another joint venture with France's Alstom <ALSO.PA> for its transportation operations.
Together with Healthineers, these businesses generate more than a third of Siemens' sales. Healthineers is the most profitable of Siemens' operations, which range from turbines to factory software, and is highly cash-generative.
"It would be very unfortunate if at some point the cash machine didn't exist any more - simply because one couldn't let go of the idea that there could only be one Siemens," he said.
"Perhaps one day Siemens industry won't control Healthineers but it will be the other way around."
Kaeser said factory automation, energy management, process and building technologies and motors and drives belonged together as businesses driven by digitization. Small and medium-sized turbines, but not large ones, were also in this group.
"These we will keep as an industrial grouping for the foreseeable future," he said. "Speculation that we will float first Digital Factory and then Energy Management, or even sell Building Technologies, are nonsense."
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Adrian Croft)