UPDATE 1-Siemens CEO curbs expectations for new strategy

Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:09am EDT

* Siemens CEO seeks to lower expectations in strategy

* To announce new strategy for Siemens on May 8

* Siemens to scrap structure of four big units - magazine (Recasts, adds CEO comments on new strategy)

MUNICH, March 19 (Reuters) - Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser sought to curb expectations on Wednesday for his new strategy for the German engineering group, which he is due to present on May 8.

"Don't expect anything earth-shattering," he said at a conference.

Kaeser, a conservative former finance chief, has been at the helm of Siemens since the beginning of August, and investors have high hopes in his ability to help Siemens regain ground lost to more profitable competitors such as Switzerland's ABB and U.S.-based General Electric (GE).

The conglomerate - whose products range from gas turbines to fast trains and industrial automation software - is seeking to save 6 billion euros ($8.35 billion) over two years and focus on its most promising businesses.

It has sought to improve the way it handles big risky projects, which led to average annual project charges of 700 million euros in recent years, and has sold some non-core businesses such as its water technology unit.

Earlier on Wednesday, French diagnostics specialist BioMerieux said it would look at Siemens' microbiology unit, which sources have told Reuters could go for around $500 million.

Cost cuts and improved project management helped boost Siemens' core operating profit by 15 percent and raised margins in its financial first quarter that ended in December. Kaeser said the current quarter through end-March was going as expected, without being more specific.

He said he aimed to put Siemens more in tune with its customers again, make it less bureaucratic and focus on future-oriented and profitable technologies.

A report by German monthly Manager Magazin on Wednesday cited supervisory board sources as saying Kaeser planned to scrap the company's split into four divisions - Energy, Industry, Healthcare and Infrastructure & Cities.

Siemens declined to comment on the report.

($1 = 0.7188 euros) (Reporting by Jens Hack; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Sofina Mirza-Reid)