Chairman and chief executive officer, E.ON
Born: September 14, 1948, in Göttingen, Germany.
Education: University of Göttingen, JD, 1976.
Family: Married Dorte (maiden name unknown); children: two.
Career: Shell, 1976–1981, legal-department counsel; 1981–1984, Business Development Manager for Eastern Europe; 1984–1986, head of Lubricant and Fuel Trading Business for Germany; 1986–1987, strategic planning; 1987–1988, Erdgas marketing; 1988–1989, head of distribution for Aviation and Public Authorities; 1989–1992, general manager for Portugal; 1992–1995, area coordinator for Africa and coordinator of Southern Hemisphere Coal Business; 1995, board of management member; VEBA, 1996–1998, board of management member; 1998–2000, head of downstream marketing and distribution; Stinnes, 2000–2002, chairman; E.ON, 2003–, chairman and CEO.
Address: E.ON, E.ON-Platz 1, 40479 Düsseldorf, Germany; http://www.eon.com.
■ Wulf H. Bernotat spent his entire career working in the energy industry. In 2003 he became the CEO of E.ON, Europe's second-largest utility.
Bernotat received a doctorate in law—with a specialization in cartel law—in 1976, and his first employment position was in the legal department at Shell in Hamburg, Germany. Although he later transferred to the business side of the energy industry, he did not seem to lose his interest in law; as late as 1997 newspaper and magazine interviews indicated his knowledge of and comfort with the legal complexities of European business.
In 1981 Bernotat went to England to become Shell London's business development manager for Eastern Europe. He never returned to legal practice, advancing thenceforth exclusively in the field of corporate management. He remained with Shell until 1996, working in various European offices with increasing amounts of administrative responsibility: in London he became Shell's coordinator of business interests in Africa as well as of coal-business interests in the entire Southern Hemisphere; in Lisbon he was general manager for Shell in Portugal; and in France he became a member of Shell Paris's board of management.
In Germany in 1996 Bernotat joined VEBA, one of two holding companies for state-owned mining and electricity businesses. VEBA had been founded in Berlin in 1929 and was privatized in 1987. Bernotat was named to the board of management with partial responsibility for downstream marketing and distribution; in 1998 he was given overall responsibility in that area.
Later in 1998 Bernotat joined Stinnes, an international provider of transportation and freight services, as chairman of the board of management. During his two years with Stinnes, Bernotat was instrumental in separating the company from peripheral business in order to concentrate on the core activity of transportation. In 1999 he guided the company through an initial public offering.
Bernotat remained on the management board of VEBA until 2000. In that year VEBA merged with another former state-owned industrial enterprise, VIAG, in a $14 billion deal; the resulting company was named E.ON. Two years later Bernotat was appointed chairman of the board of management and chief executive officer of E.ON, a position he assumed on May 1, 2003.
E.ON began its existence as a German conglomerate but by 2003 had become an international multiutility. E.ON owned Powergen, a British energy provider; LG&E, an American utility; and Rurhgas, Germany's number-one supplier of natural gas. As CEO of E.ON Bernotat adhered to his driving corporate philosophy: to concentrate on core business. Under his direction the company divested itself of or was preparing to divest itself of Ruhrgas; Viterra, a real-estate operation; Degussa, a chemical company in which E.ON had a significant stake; and Bouyges Telecom. At the same time E.ON planned on increasing its presence in specific European power markets as well as on establishing significant investments in its electric network.
Bernotat took part in several meetings with other German energy companies and with the government in order to discuss the future of German energy policy in light of global warming and protests against nuclear power.
Bernotat was a practical, methodical administrator. His education and early experience prepared him to be a lawyer; he was insistent on working within the framework of established dictates. His career path took him higher and higher up in the European energy industry, and he exhibited an appreciation for the importance of networking continental resources in order to assure absolute efficiency.
See also entry on E.On AG in International Directory of Company Histories .
"E.ON Plans to Sell Rurhgas Industries," AFX News Limited , April 28, 2004.
"Germany Puts at Risk Future Power Investment," Reuters, Electricity Forum News , November 3, 2003, http://www.electricityforum.com/news/nov03/germany.html .