L-R: Georges Rassel, outgoing CEO of Paul Wurth Luxembourg; André Schneider, incoming CEO of SMS group Region Europe, Paul Wurth Luxembourg; Credit: SMS group

The management board of SMS group, the parent company of Paul Wurth SA since 2021, has announced the appointment of André Schneider as new CEO of the SMS group Region Europe, as well as CEO of Paul Wurth in Luxembourg.

André Schneider will replace Georges Rassel as Paul Wurth Luxembourg CEO; the latter, according to the Germany-based SMS group, has been offered another job within the group.

The group noted in a statement that Georges Rassel has worked at Paul Worth since 1988, first in the "bridges and structures - general contracting" department and subsequently in the metallurgy department. After joining Paul Wurth's management team as COO in 2011, Mr Rassel took over as CEO in 2015 and "has led the company towards becoming the leading partner for the decarbonisation of ironmaking plants." The group added that Mr Rassel had "orchestrated the successful integration of Paul Wurth into the SMS group, which started in 2012."

Burkhard Dahmen, CEO of SMS group, stated: "We express our sincere thanks to Georges Rassel. Georges has been with Paul Wurth for many years, building trustful and lasting relationships with customers worldwide, and demonstrating that Paul Wurth is the global leader in ironmaking technology. He can be proud of having successfully steered Paul Wurth into the age of sustainable iron and steel production." 

His successor André Schneider has been with SMS group for many years, in various functions such as Executive Vice-President of forging plants business and as CEO of the SMS group Region CIS. His focus now will be on "fully exploiting the market potential for green steel projects in the region Europe and together with the Paul Wurth management team, he will continue to drive R&D activities on decarbonisation from Luxembourg."

Luxembourg trade unions LCGB and OGBL have expressed their shock at the "tumultuous and unexpected" news of Georges Rassel's replacement, or as they described it in a statement, his "dismissal", as CEO of Paul Wurth Luxembourg and of the Europe region. The employee representatives, with the support of said unions, have thus called for an emergency meeting with the general management in order to "try to understand the reasoning behind this completely surprising decision which breaks directly with the commitments agreed by the group." If necessary, according to the unions, the LCGB and the OGBL will "reserve the right to act by all means at their disposal."

This decision has raised "serious concerns", according to the unions, about the SMS group's intentions regarding the future of Paul Wurth Luxembourg. The unions warned that there was now "a real risk of a breakdown in social dialogue" within the company.