Wolf Case

7243 Words29 Pages
9-498-045
REV: OCTOBER 17, 2008

JOHN J. GABARRO

Wolfgang Keller at Königsbräu-TAK (A)
After a two-month temporary assignment in Brazil, Wolfgang (Wolf) Keller was returning to Europe, where he would meet his family in Switzerland for a 10-day ski vacation. His boss, Dr. Hans Häussler, had insisted that he take the time off before returning to Ukraine, where Keller was managing director1 of Königsbräu’s Ukrainian subsidiary, Königsbräu-TAK A.E. The parent corporation, Königsbräu A.G., was a Munich-based brewer of premium beers with worldwide sales of 10.3 billion Euros (€). Königsbräu was known as one of the best-managed and most profitable brewers of premium beer in the world, and its brand enjoyed high recognition and prestige on
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In the three years since taking charge, Keller had increased the Ukrainian subsidiary’s earnings to €7 million per year on revenues of €145 million. This effort involved changing the marketing strategy, hiring a new top-management group, restructuring the sales force, and acquiring a fourth brewery in Odessa. Keller was pleased with the results and found the turnaround to be one of the most exciting experiences of his life. He accepted the job with Königsbräu because of the responsibility and challenge it offered, and also because he had very much enjoyed his earlier stay in Ukraine and spoke the language fluently. His friends often joked that he was more Ukrainian than German in both temperament and business style. Keller loved his three years at Königsbräu-TAK. He also knew that his success in Ukraine had been noticed in Munich, and he had heard rumors that some people saw him as having the potential of someday being promoted to the firm’s Vorstand. (This consisted of a small group of corporate officers which, under German law, served as a corporation’s collective chief executive office. For many German executives, being a member of the Vorstand was equivalent to being named CEO in the United States, the United Kingdom or Canada.) Keller had spent the preceding two months in Brazil
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