Germany’s Hensoldt hires Thales executive to lead company

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PARIS — Defense electronics specialist Hensoldt has hired a competitor’s executive as its new leader, the German company announced Monday.

Oliver Dörre will become CEO at Hensoldt and replace outgoing boss Thomas Müller on April 1.

Dörre joins Hensoldt from the French firm Thales, where he led the company’s German arm. Dörre has already started work on Hensoldt’s management board, the company noted.

“The handover process that is now beginning and the familiarisation of Oliver Dörre are part of our long-term succession planning,” Müller said in the statement. “Oliver is the ideal candidate to optimally develop HENSOLDT’s potential in a new defence policy environment and to implement our international growth strategy.”

Dörre is set to take over at Hensoldt amid rising defense budgets around the world. The company estimates business opportunities in the 2024-2028 time period will be worth about €34 billion (U.S. $37 billion), with almost a quarter of that coming from Germany.

The company in November reported nine-month revenue rose 3.2% year over year to €1.14 billion.

Hensoldt provides radar systems used in the Eurofighter jet and the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ships, as well as optoelectronics for the Leopard tank. It is also leading the sensor development for the European Future Combat Air System program. With sensors at the core of the connected battlefield, Hensoldt expects that business to grow at twice the rate of the overall defense market.

Dörre holds a degree in computer science and worked as a general staff officer in the German Air Force from 1988 to 2010, most recently as a policy officer with a rank of lieutenant colonel in the planning department of the German Defence Ministry. He held several management roles at the tech firm Frequentis before joining Thales in 2015, and then becoming CEO of Thales Germany at the start of 2021.

Thales has appointed Christoph Ruffner to replace Dörre, the company said in a statement. Ruffner will report to Philippe Duhamel, Thales’ executive vice president for defense mission systems. Ruffner previously led the spectrum dominance and airborne solutions division at Hensoldt, where he was a member of the executive committee.

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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