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Meyer Group restructures, brings in new CEO

Bernd Eikens is a seasoned corporate leader with vast international experience
Meyer Group appointed a new CEO from outside the family, Bernd Eikens, amid a restructuring during challenging times for the privately held shipbuilder.

Eikens, a member of the Meyer Turku advisory board since 2019, will join the Meyer Group full-time in December.

The change comes less than three months after Bernard Meyer's 75th birthday, coinciding with his 50th year at Meyer Werft. In future, Meyer will focus on non-operational matters in the Advisory Board of the Meyer Group.

'Perfect fit'

Meyer called Eikens a 'perfect fit' with his management experience in Germany and Finland.

During four years as advisory board member of Meyer Turku, Eikens has familiarized himself with the business. He brings vast leadership experience from outside the maritime sector through a number of management positions at UPM-Kymmene, a Finnish forestry company, over 25 years, and since 2013 as a member of its executive team.

His international career includes positions in the US, China, Germany and Finland. Most recently, he headed the successful implementation of a pulp mill project in Uruguay with an investment of $3.5b.

Jan Meyer and Tim Meyer 

The restructuring establishes a Meyer Group Executive Board to steer all activities and developments, strengthen the core business and develop new business opportunities.

FILE PHOTOCRUISE_Thomas_Weigend_Jan_Meyer_Bernard_Meyer_Tim_Meyer_.jpg

From left, Thomas Weigend becomes chief sales officer, Jan Meyer will oversee new business development and serve as chief business innovation officer, Bernard Meyer will participate in the Group's Advisory Board and Tim Meyer continues as CEO of Meyer Turku while also taking the role of family speaker with customers and stakeholders

Eikens will be in charge of global operations in shipbuilding as well as Meyer Werft in Papenburg. Jan Meyer, who has led Meyer Werft as CEO, will oversee new business development centering around Neptun Werft and including the new offshore wind business as well as overseeing technology development as the chief business innovation officer. 

Tim Meyer, who continues as CEO of Meyer Turku, was also appointed family speaker to represent the company with shipbuilding customers and stakeholders.

Thomas Weigend becomes chief sales officer and will lead the holistic customer interface and cross-yard capacity planning and will further develop the new business opportunities Meyer Floating Solutions and Meyer RE.

Dependence on cruise orders  

The reorganization means that the top function at Meyer Group will in the future be held by an experienced manager from outside the Meyer family. In his new role, Bernd Eikens joins an emblematic German/Finnish shipbuilding venture renowned for quality and innovation which, at the same time, faces a number of challenges.

Starting in the 1990s, Meyer — which built all sorts of vessels in the past — concentrated more and more on cruise ships.

Now, it appears that Meyer will again have to diversify. The Papenburg yard, tailored to deliver up to two big and one smaller cruise vessel annually, is currently working off a 'stretched orderbook' with deliveries of one big and one small ship per year. The last deliveries are set for 2025 with the final Disney Cruise Line ship and an order for NYK Cruises.

Turku's cruise orderbook wraps in 2026 with Icon 3.

Additional borrowing

In the spring, Meyer Group took an additional loan from a private banking consortium partly secured by a guarantee from the state of Lower Saxony, with a backstop from the federal government.

Nevertheless, a lot of work remains to be done in the near future, including diversification to reduce the Meyer Group's dependence on the cruise segment. A return to the construction of ferries (ro-pax vessels), for which Meyer used to be renowned, and a new focus on the offshore wind business could be part of the solution.