Commentary: What does the ABB news mean for end users?

"We have to turn the page now," said Michel Demare, the new CEO of ABB at the end of an international media and analyst conference call held early this morning Zurich time. "Tomorrow is a new day, and we have all these excellent results to share." ABB Chairman Hubertus von Gruenberg, despite being pressed very hard by reporters and industry analysts to reveal what the "irrevocable differences" were that led to the surprise exit of President and CEO Fred Kindle, refused to comment numerous times. He said it wasn't about acquisitions, although later news reports indicated that Kindle's departure was, in fact, about a clash over acquisitions strategy. Von Gruenberg said it wasn't clash of personality or a discovery that Kindle was doing something wrong. He simply wouldn't say, even though he understood that this had caused ABB stock to drop precipitously on excellent results for the quarter. But enough. Kindle is gone, Demare is in, the search for a new CEO is underway, and life goes on. What does this mean to end users? Probably nothing. ABB continues to be strong, continues to have strong product offerings, and continues to have $8 billion in the bank in cash -- certainly enough resources to weather whatever recessionary pressures the economy will put on the company in the next few years. Unless you are a stockholder in ABB, you should go about your business. Nothing to see here. Move along. If you are a stockholder, you may want to ask the same questions the reporters and analysts asked this morning and will probably ask again tomorrow morning at the quarterly financial press conference and tomorrow afternoon at the scheduled analysts' briefing. It doesn't look like there's any material from which ABB's competitors can start making FUD either. Herr von Gruenberg has a history of being a very difficult man to work for, and he's had senior officials quit on him before. That's probably the entire story as I see it.

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