Beyrer gets ÖIAG top job

Markus Beyrer, the general secretary of the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV), has been appointed as the new head of Industry-Holding Stock Corporation ÖIAG.ÖIAG’s supervisory board unanimously voted for Beyrer yesterday afternoon (Tues). Around 40 businesspeople applied for the post, according to reports. Former Telekom Austria (TA) and VimpelCom boss Boris Nemsic was the only candidate to publicly confirm his application.Beyrer succeeds Peter Michaelis who headed ÖIAG for 10 years. Michaelis announced only some months ago that he will not apply for another term as head of the organisation. Newspapers criticised ÖIAG for paying more than 700,000 Euros in annual salaries to Michaelis. The outgoing ÖIAG head has been at loggerheads with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) due to his strong interest in privatising state-owned companies.ÖIAG holds a 31.5 per cent interest in oil and gas company OMV, 28.4 per cent in TA and a 52.9 per cent share in federal postal services provider Post AG. Rumour has it that ÖIAG could be asked by the government to supervise state-funded Federal Railways (ÖBB), motorway maintenance company Asfinag and electricity provider Verbund AG.SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann and Andreas Schieder, the party’s financial issues state secretary, suggested dissolving ÖIAG last year due to the small number of firms it is managing. People’s Party (ÖVP) Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll stressed that he vehemently opposed the idea. Pröll said ÖIAG should instead get more responsibilities to justify its existence. The vice chancellor’s party forms a government coalition with the Social Democrats.Schieder said earlier this week that ÖIAG was in need of a new concept. While Faymann in the meantime stopped calling for an end of ÖIAG, Schieder once more emphasised that the corporation should be dissolved if it is not restructured.The state secretary also appealed to lower personnel costs at ÖIAG and rejected claims that the organisation would perform better if it gets a two-member board instead of one sole chief. Referring to the ambitions of Michaelis to privatise state-owned firms, Schieder announced before Beyrer was assigned that: “ÖIAG must not become a sell-out corporation under its new leadership.”Beyrer will take office as ÖIAG president on 1 July. IV boss Veit Sorger announced today that Christoph Neumayer will become IV’s new general secretary, with Peter Koren as his deputy.Economy Chamber (WKO) President Christoph Leitl said ÖIAG “will be in good hands” with Beyrer. ÖVP Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner also welcomed his appointment.Schieder harshly criticised the supervisory board’s decision to pick Beyrer. He branded the decision as “surprisingly uninspired”. The financial affairs state secretary added: “It seems no one learned from the mistakes that were made in the era of Michaelis if ÖIAG now becomes a branch of the Federation of Austrian Industries.”