July 6, 2018 / 11:39 AM / 17 days ago

Acid attack manager rushed back to work to deal with Innogy break-up

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Plans to break up German utility Innogy IGY.L led its finance chief to rush back to work just two months after he had been in intensive care following a disfiguring acid attack.

FILE PHOTO: Bernhard Guenther, Chief Financial Officer of German power supplier RWE poses for a picture following the annual financial results news conference at the RWE headquarters in Essen, western Germany March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

In his first public comments since the incident, Bernhard Guenther said news of the break-up - a week after the acid attack - only made him more determined to get well and return to a company he had helped set up.

The plan to divide Innogy’s assets between parent RWE (RWEG.DE) and E.ON (EONGn.DE), announced on March 11, marked the biggest power sector overhaul since Germany announced it would pull out of nuclear power.

“It definitely accelerated my return to work,” Guenther told German financial daily Handelsblatt in an interview.

He took part in a conference call with analysts in mid-May after suffering facial burns and impaired vision from the attack.

“I believe this was an important and positive signal to my colleagues at this difficult time.”

The deal dealt a personal blow to Guenther, who worked with former RWE CEO Peter Terium to create Innogy in 2016 - carving out the parent’s networks, renewables and retail operations - with both then joining the new company. Terium quit Innogy last year after a profit warning.

Guenther could not say whether the March 4 attack, perpetrated by two unknown men who accosted him as he returned home from a jog, was connected to his job at Innogy.

“This is under investigation,” said Guenther. “As long as we have no concrete information, nothing can be ruled out.”

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter

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