His third term would soon be up anyway: but now Frans van Houten is resigning prematurely as CEO of the medical technology group Philips, amid a large-scale recall of ventilators.

The successor is Roy Jakobs and will take over the leadership around six months before the regular date on October 15, as the competitor from Siemens Healthineers announced on Tuesday in Amsterdam.

Jakobs is 48 years old, has been with Philips since 2010, is Dutch and also has German nationality.

Klaus Max Smolka

Editor in Business.

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On the one hand, the van Houten name is associated with the decisive phase in the break-up of the former technology group Philips, because the company is now largely concentrating on medical technology.

On the other hand, the 62-year-old manager is stuck with the difficulties with ventilators, with which Philips is already heading for billions.

This involves devices that are used in sleep apnea: in patients who repeatedly stop breathing during sleep.

A foam used in the devices can apparently come loose and be harmful if inhaled.

Philips replaces or repairs 5.5 million devices.

This ties up staff and has so far led to almost 900 million euros in provisions for the costs – the uncertainty due to lawsuits in the USA and elsewhere is not yet included.

The problems became known in the summer of last year, and the share price quickly halved thereafter.

Van Houten's regular term of office would end next spring after twelve years.

Philips describes the change as a normal, planned process: Van Houten and the board of directors have agreed "that the end of the third term in office is the right time for a change in leadership".

The Supervisory Board considered external and internal candidates and unanimously selected Jakobs.

"I don't believe in long transition periods," said van Houten on Tuesday.

However, more than a decade ago, Philips had designed his own assumption of office with just such a transitional period: Van Houten was named Gerard Kleisterlee's successor in the summer of 2010, then worked his way in as a simple board member and took over the management of the group in April 2011 as planned.

It is true that van Houten had come from outside

but as a returnee after a short absence who knew the company well.

Van Houten himself said events surrounding the apnea apparatus played "no role" in his early departure.

An extraordinary general meeting is to approve the change at the end of September.

Money keeps flowing

Despite everything, van Houten gets his salary, as the company has confirmed.

Until the end of April he should act as a "consultant".

This could again lead to public displeasure - like recently the fact that van Houten received his 1.8 million euro bonus for the previous year despite the events surrounding the ventilators.

The resentment was not limited to circles that traditionally scold managers or capitalism: at the annual general meeting in May, four-fifths of the capital present voted against the reward.

Because the vote is only a recommendation and not binding, Philips paid the amount to his foreman.

Philips was once one of the three major western tech conglomerates alongside Siemens and General Electric (GE).

The company had a wide range of products from light bulbs and semiconductors to televisions and audio equipment.

Where Philips is on it today, Philips is usually no longer included, the name then being the result of license agreements.

Because over the years the group has given up one division after the other: a process that began even before van Houten.

Many see the 2006 divestment of the semiconductor business as a crucial harbinger, which incidentally was led by Houten.

At that time, the manager only left Philips to continue this division under the aegis of financial investors and the new name NXP, and left there at the end of 2008.

After van Houten returned to Philips, he accelerated the sale there and largely completed it.

Under his leadership, first the televisions disappeared from the group, then the audio devices with speakers and headphones.

Finally, Philips spun off the lighting division as an independent company on the stock exchange - it now operates as Signify - and thus cut the historical roots.

Most recently, the household appliances division had to say goodbye, with vacuum cleaners, irons and coffee machines.

What remains is medical technology and, as an appendage, a small division with toothbrushes and razors.

In the meantime, van Houten was successful on the stock market, the price of the paper listed in the leading index AEX peaked at 50 euros.

He has since returned to roughly the level he was at when van Houten took office.

Investors fear lawsuits for damages in the USA.

Yesterday, 19.30 euros had to be paid for a Philips share, 3 percent more than the day before.

Jakob's designated successor has been on the Executive Committee since 2020 and is now also responsible for the recall campaign for the ventilators.

He previously worked at energy company Shell and media and data company RELX, formerly Reed Elsevier.

He came to Philips in 2010 and held various positions, including Head of Marketing and Strategy for the lighting division, which was not yet outsourced at the time.

Jakobs was born in Kerkrade on the German border in 1974, studied economics in Nijmegen and Bologna and completed a Masters in Marketing in Tilburg.