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Siemens needs a start-up mentality: CEO

The head of German industrial group Siemens was recently accused of sounding more like the head of a start-up than a man in charge of a behemoth founded more than 150 years ago. But Joe Kaeser told CNBC he was pleased by the comparison.

On Wednesday, an article in German newspaper Handelsblatt said Kaeser "often sounds more like the founder of a fast-paced start-up than head of one of Germany's most traditional companies."

"I take that as a compliment, if a big industrial giant is considered to be moved into a more start-up type of community," Kaeser told CNBC Thursday.

"In order to get up to speed with digitalization, we really need to change our mindsets from a very process-driven environment to a problem or opportunity-driven one and that's what start-ups do -- they have a problem to solve and they focus all their efforts on what needs to be done -- and that's exactly what Siemens is going to be up to."

Since becoming CEO two years ago, Kaeser has overseen a restructuring program at Siemens which has seen the company shed non-core assets and cut staff.

The latest appraisal of the company's health came earlier on Thursday. In its earnings report, the 168-year old company -- one of Germany's biggest employers -- said it expected a double-digit rise in earnings for its current fiscal year provided that markets pick up for some of its key businesses.

The trains-to-turbines group, which is the first of its peers to give an outlook for the year ahead, forecast a moderate full-year rise in revenue and a book-to-bill ratio above 1 after beating expectations for fourth-quarter profit.

A worker assists in moving a disc of a gas turbine at the Siemens gas turbine plant in Berlin, Germany.
Getty Images
A worker assists in moving a disc of a gas turbine at the Siemens gas turbine plant in Berlin, Germany.

"Siemens anticipates further softening in the macroeconomic environment and continuing complexity in the geopolitical environment in 2016," it said in a statement on Thursday.

"This outlook assumes that momentum in the market environment for Siemens' high-margin short-cycle businesses will pick up in the second half of fiscal 2016."

Siemens said basic earnings per share should rise by at least 14 percent on a comparable basis to 5.90 to 6.20 euros. EPS for the year to end-September was boosted by the disposals of Siemens' hearing aids and household appliance businesses.

The company exceeded its industrial profit margin target of 10-11 percent with a result of 11.3 percent in its fourth quarter to the end of September, and renewed the goal for the current year on Thursday.

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Reuters contributed reporting to this story