Vestas axes Rieks as offshore wind head after just weeks

Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has fired its head of offshore wind Hans Jörn Rieks – less than three weeks after appointing him.

Rieks was appointed after the previous boss, Anders Søe Jensen was dismissed in January as part of the reorganisation that Vestas announced on 12 January.

A Vestas spokeswoman says: “I can confirm that Hans Jörn Rieks is no longer with Vestas but was dismissed earlier this week. There is no new head of offshore in place yet.”

Rieks adds to a growing list of senior executives to be fired or leave the company over the last few weeks.

The company’s technology research and development (R&D) head Finn Strøm Madsen, control systems head Bjarne Ravn Sørensen, and head of communications Peter Kruse were dismissed on 12 January.

On 7 February, on the eve of the release of the company’s 2011 results, acting chief financial officer, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer Henrik Nørremark resigned.

That came after an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding two consecutive profit warnings caused by cost overruns and missing revenues.

According to a source familiar with the business, Rieks formed part of a tight-knit group of senior executives that included Nørremark, all of whom had been with Vestas almost since the company's beginnings – and all of whom have now been dismissed.

Nørremark's departure was quickly followed by the announcement that the chair and deputy chairs of the Vestas board, along with another director, would not be standing for reelection.

“The company is a vacuum at the moment,” says the source, “but if [chief executive] Ditlev Engel comes out of the other side of this, he will be a real strong man.”

Any new board elected at the Vestas AGM on 29 March will be under enormous pressure to replace Engel.

However, the source points out that Engel “is the only one left with any experience and knowledge, so how do you run things?”

In a conference call with analysts and journalists yesterday, Engel, who has come under widespread criticism for his running of the company in recent months, said “to be very frank, I am CEO, CFO and COO".

Now, he will take over as temporary head of offshore as well.