ABB's $20bn Hogan to step down

Joe Hogan, who helmed ABB as it transformed into one of the world’s most important and eclectic renewables players, is stepping down.

The chief executive is leaving for “private reasons”, the company says, but will stay on until a successor has been announced. No date has been set for the handover.

Since taking the reins at the Swiss-Swedish industrial giant in September 2008, Hogan, an American and a veteran of GE’s medical, automation and plastics divisions, has overseen $20bn of investment to ABB’s sprawling business empire – much of it with deep implications for the future of renewable energy.

In recent years it has invested in renewables-focused businesses large and small, from its $1bn acquisition last month of Power-One, the world’s second-largest supplier of PV inverters, to its 2011 acquisition of Australia’s Powercorp, whose technology enables islands and other isolated grids to incorporate high levels of variable generation without suffering blackouts.

During Hogan's tenure, ABB became a major force in the global solar sphere. In addition to its inverter business and its part-ownership of concentrated solar power specialist Novatec, the company is a founding member of the Desertec Industrial Initiative – and a fast-growing player in the engineering, procurement and construction sphere in emerging markets such as South Africa.

ABB is also a major global player in onshore electricity transmission, having installed infrastructure critical to the onshore wind sector in Brazil and Scandinavia in recent years.

Yet perhaps its biggest impact in renewables has been in offshore cabling, where it is one of the few companies making the types of cables used at offshore wind farms. Alongside Siemens, it is one of just two making the high-voltage direct-current lines being installed at far-shore projects such as those in the German North Sea.