Corner office socialism is a baffling experiment for a capitalist corporation.
Infineon Technologies AG's decision to scrap the office of president and CEO, replacing it with the ambiguous title, "Spokesman of the Management Board," is not only puzzling but is also symptomatic of deeper problems at the German semiconductor company.
Infineon's public image had already taken a beating as the company struggles to stem losses while scrambling to find a buyer for its controlling stake in loss-ridden memory vendor Qimonda.
In recent weeks, doubts have grown about the company's ability to survive as a standalone entity. Many industry observers have suggested it merge with another European IC maker to improve its competitive position in the worldwide IC market.
On Monday (May 26), the German semiconductor vendor dismissed president and CEO Wolfgang Ziebart and announced a complex executive management system that in many ways looked like a corporate version of the communist political system.
However, even Communist China has a party leader and president. Even at the height of its power, the former Soviet Union had a clear leader at the apex of the socialist government structure.
What Infineon, a capitalist business at the heart of Europe's biggest economy, has offered in terms of its new executive structure is Peter Bauer, who heads the company's automotive, industrial and multimarket business. Bauer will serve as spokesman for the management board.
In other words, 47-year-old Bauer would not be the leader, but would act as mouthpiece for a group of four men, including CFO Marco Schroter, communication solutions division head Hermann Eul and Reinhard Ploss, chief of operations.
Infineon's supervisory board--which includes such heavyweights as Martin Winterkorn, chairman of Volkswagen AG's management board, Eckard Sunner of BASF SE and attorney Max Dietrich Kley--must believe Infineon's problems could be more easily solved if executive powers were not concentrated in the hands of a single person.
That obviously was the reason behind the removal of Ziebart, who resigned because of "different opinions on the future strategic orientation of the company," according to Infineon.