Theodor Weimer has the best image of all 30 DAX CEOs in 2020

  • Top managers with strong leadership qualities and a clear strategy perform well in the coronavirus crisis
  • Theodor Weimer (Deutsche Börse) defends his top spot in the overall ranking 2020
  • Stephan Sturm (Fresenius) climbs to second place. Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges ranks third
  • Niklas Östberg (Delivery Hero) manages to enter the top 10 after the company is listed in the DAX for just four months

Theodor Weimer tops the UNICEPTA image ranking of the 30 DAX CEOs in 2020. The CEO of Deutsche Börse had already come first in the previous three quarters and was able to retain his spot in the fourth quarter.

He impressed media outlets above all with his leadership qualities. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says “He gets things done at the stock exchange“. “Weimer listens, is interested, fascinated,“ writes the paper, which is full of praise. WirtschaftsWoche believes the top manager is capable of preparing his company for the future: “When Theodor Weimer presents Deutsche Börse's new strategy soon, it could mark a turning point for the share.“ And Handelsblatt is confident in the CEO's ability to deliver on his promises in the takeover of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS): “CEO Theodor Weimer is thus fulfilling his promise to strengthen Deutsche Börse's position in international competition through acquisitions.“

Storm steers company through pandemic, Höttges celebrated for diversity and rhetoric

Fresenius CEO Stephan Sturm has made a significant leap forward. After the third quarter, he was still in seventh place; in the overall ranking, he placed second. Under Sturm's leadership, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was not as severe as initially feared. “We had held out the prospect of things picking up in terms of sales and earnings after a second quarter weighed down by lockdowns. We have achieved that,“ Börsen-Zeitung quotes him as saying. The unanimous decision to extend his contract at the healthcare company by another five years was praised by journalists.

Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, also made it onto the podium. He moved up from fifth to third place after the third quarter. Handelsblatt calls him “the new Mr. Diversity“ after he was named Personality of the Year by the BeyondGenderAgenda initiative for his commitment to diversity. His rhetorical skills have also been positively highlighted in the media. “The association of speechwriters of the German language (VRdS) was full of praise“ for Höttges, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. Out of all 30 DAX CEOs, he was “by far the most successful in adapting to the new format of the online annual general meeting. [...] With Höttges, the whole thing was right, not just the presentation.“

Wenning and Winkler optimistic despite the coronavirus

Handelsblatt describes Munich Re CEO Joachim Wenning, who ranks fourth, as “pragmatic, unconventional and open.“ In Börsen-Zeitung, he emphasizes that his company has so far weathered the coronavirus crisis well: “Our company receives no state aid, shareholders continue to benefit from our success with dividend payments, and takes care of its employees, an indispensable protection against coronavirus-related short-time work and unemployment.“

Reiner Winkler, CEO of MTU Aero Engines, has made it back into the ranking of the 30 DAX CEOs, coming in fifth overall. In Die Welt, he notes that he is cautiously optimistic about the situation of the aviation industry in the post-coronavirus era: “Winkler pointed out that in China, for example, domestic air traffic has already returned to pre-pandemic levels.“ In case of a new wave of infections, “we are talking about several hundred additional engineers needed in our company alone,“ WirtschaftsWoche quotes him as saying.

New in the DAX – new in the image ranking: Niklas Östberg

The top five are followed by Christian Klein (SAP, sixth place) and Carsten Knobel (Henkel, seventh place). Niklas Östberg (Delivery Hero) is on the list for the first time, ranking eighth. Since Delivery Hero's entry into the DAX at the end of August, the Swede has succeeded in establishing a profile that has been positively assessed by the media. The operator of online ordering platforms is one of the winners in the coronavirus pandemic. Östberg may even raise the company‘s forecasts slightly, Handelsblatt reports. “So far, it looks like Niklas Östberg has a good handle on this dynamic situation.“ In addition, Delivery Hero‘s expansion plans are bearing fruit: In Börsen-Zeitung, Östberg speaks of a “very encouraging start“ in Japan. The ranking is completed by Oliver Bäte (Allianz) in ninth place and Oliver Zipse (BMW) in tenth place.

For the CEO ranking, UNICEPTA analyzed around 16,600 articles published from January to November 2020 in leading German media outlets as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, the Financial Times and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The ranking is based on results from the UNICEPTA "DAX Benchmark", with which the provider of Media & Data Intelligence continuously records the media presence of all DAX companies and their CEOs as well as the tonality of media coverage.


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