Vattenfall Wakes Up to VattenFAIL Reputation: Did Twitter Help Topple CEO?

Vattenfall's Outgoing CEO Joseffsons...a Crisis of Trust? photo

Image: Vattenfall

Vattenfall, the Swedish national energy concern named after waterfalls, will announce a new CEO in the coming weeks. Apparently caught by surprise with a candidate who has not yet entirely been confirmed, the company is fighting a stalling action but admitting the truth of the rumors that have taken over headlines in German newspapers. Is it a story of intrigue, politics and a crisis of trust? Did Vattenfall VattenFAIL, as the twitter group claims? Or is this, as Vattenfall claims, just the normal succession planning for Joseffsons' depature on his 60th birthday in October 2010?Apparently, the accident at Vattenfall's nuclear power plant in Krümmel, Germany -- which ignited the VatenFAIL twitter campaign -- contributes to the pending management turnover. The accident was initially reported in July 2009 as a minor failure in the transformers, inciting cynics to observe that the plant was in the process of starting up after significant upgrades made in the wake of a transformer failure two years before. Only later did news break that the nuclear incident was significantly more serious than presented.

Now Spiegel (German) reports that the Swedish government has forced Vattenfall to give current CEO Joseffsons the push after learning of huge penalties that could apply in case of a nuclear accident at one of the company's German power plants. Apparently, executives relying on the firm protection of legal walls between the German subsidiary and the Swedish parent are appalled to learn that a German nuclear glitch could bring the whole company to its knees.

Other issues could contribute to the loss of faith in Joseffsons. Some reports note that as CEO, Joseffsons has lost the initiative to keep Vattenfalls' reputation, consistent with its pure-as-nature homonym, as a green power provider seeking leadership in renewable energy. Not pursuing sustainable options should be reason enough to topple the CEO at any company.

More on Vattenfall
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