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Tui, the German travel group, is set to appoint a new chief executive next year after Michael Frenzel said he would step down following almost two decades in charge.
He will be succeeded by Friedrich Joussen, 49, who led Vodafone’s German unit for the past seven years.
Mr Joussen will join the management board in October and take over as CEO in February 2013.
Mr Frenzel, 65, was the chief architect of one of most dramatic transformations in German corporate history.
After becoming chief executive of Preussag, a sprawling industrial conglomerate, in 1994 he helped reposition the company as a travel services businesses that today controls Tui Travel, Europe’s largest tour operator.
He gradually sold off Preussag’s non-core industrial assets and in 1997 acquired a stake in Hapag-Lloyd, the container and cruise shipping company.
Preussag was rebranded as Tui and Mr Frenzel chartered its international expansion via the acquisition in 2000 of Thomson Travel in the UK and a stake in Nouvelles Frontières, the French package holiday company.
His plans to exit Hapag-Lloyd’s volatile container shipping operations in order to focus on tourism were repeatedly frustrated, however.
Tui hoped last year to pursue an initial public offering of its remaining Hapag Lloyd stake, but in February agreed to reduce its holding from 38 per cent to 22 per cent through a sale to a Hamburg consortium.
Tui said Mr Frenzel would continue to support the company during the transition period and introduce his successor to the role.