MUNICH Siemens AG's (SIEGn.DE) procurement chief Barbara Kux looks set to leave the company in 2013, five years after becoming the German engineering conglomerate's first female top manager.
Ranked fourth on Fortune's list of the 50 most powerful women in business outside the United States for a third year running, Kux previously worked at Philips (PHG.AS), Ford (F.N), ABB ABBN.VX, Nestle NESN.VX and McKinsey.
But two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that Siemens' supervisory board will not renew Kux's contract. Siemens commonly decides whether to extend the contracts of top managers about a year before they run out.
The news, flagged earlier by German daily Financial Times Deutschland, comes as a surprise as procurement is expected to play a major role in Chief Executive Peter Loescher's new 6 billion-euro ($7.7 billion) savings drive.
Kux came to Siemens from Philips in late 2008, a move that had German newspapers proclaiming "the womanless age at Siemens is over".
Corporate management is still heavily dominated by men in Germany, Europe's largest economy. Today only 4 percent of top German managers are female compared with an OECD average of 10 percent. Meanwhile, no more than 15 percent of German supervisory board members are female.
Deutsche Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) earlier this year became the first German blue chip company to pick a woman as finance chief. Deutsche Post (DPWGn.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE) have also appointed women to their boards this year.
Only months before Kux's appointment Loescher had told a newspaper he felt his company's top management was too German, too white and too male for its own good.
(Corrects sixth paragraph by removing erroneous statement that no woman was on the management board of a blue-chip firm until 2008.)
(Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)