OHB Fires CEO Smutny; Fuchs Takes Over as Interim Chief Executive
[Satellite TODAY 01-24-11] German space company and Galileo developer OHB System has fired CEO Berry Smutny after WikiLeaks released a cable containing conversations between himself and a U.S. official where Smutny described the Galileo as “a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests,” the company announced Jan. 21.
Last year, OHB System won a 566 million euro ($754 million) contract to build the first 14 satellites for Galileo, Europe’s planned rival to the U.S. GPS system. The decision to fire Smutny follows the company’s supervisory board decision to suspend the CEO on Jan. 17. OHB System board members said they “saw no alternative to this decision in order to effectively avert any further damage to the company.”
OHB System Supervisory Board Chief Manfred Fuchs will take over for Smuty as interim CEO until further notice. “Smutny declared in a statutory oath that he did not make the statements attributed to him … This company expressly repudiates all the statements attributed to Smutny and affirms its full and complete commitment to Galileo,” Fuchs said in a statement.
In a separate statement, European Union Industry and Entrepreneurship Commissioner Antonio Tajini said Smutny’s removal would not create any problems for Galileo or OHB’s participation in the program.