The City of Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs - the post with ultimate responsibility for the governance of the port as Chairman of the Supervisory Board - is to step down at the end of this year. A former DB AG CEO, Rainer Grube, is tipped to succeed him
Frank Horch has been Senator for Economic Affairs since 2011, accepting an invitation from the city’s then Mayor, Olaf Scholz, after a successful three years as Chairman of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce.
Horch has had a difficult time in office, largely because of the interminable dispute over the Elbe fairway deepening programme and the long-running internal port dispute over what to do with the port’s Steinwerder property. As he is an independent Senator, he lacks the support of any political party.
Horch’s brief covers the entire Hamburg business community, not just the port, but in an interview with Hamburg News this February he said "the port is not everything, yet Hamburg is nothing without the port. Let’s begin with adjusting the Elbe fairway. When can we expect the bulldozers?"
He reiterated his desire to see the fairway work start during this year and, as the last legal hurdles appear to have been cleared, he may get his wish.
While he made the deepening of the Elbe his top priority, he was often criticised as being too weak in the face of opposition from environmental groups such as BUND and NABU. But he also won many friends and earned their respect.
His announcement was received by the Hamburg’s mayor Dr Peter Tschentscher said he deeply regretted Horch’s decision to step down, although everyone understood the reasons. Horch, who spent most of his professional career in posts with German shipyards and ship technology firms, said he was giving up the job to spend more time with his wife, whose health has been failing.
BUND now calculates the Elbe project cost at a massive €760M, including €64M that it says has to be spent to strengthen the river bank at Altenbrucher Bogen, just upstream of Cuxhaven. BUND has rejected accusations that it is responsible for the extra costs and delays, and counters that the escalating costs are the result of insufficient planning, ignorance and disregard for environmental laws.
One of the candidates to succeed Horch is Dr Rainer Grube, currently Chairman of the Advisory Board of HHLA and a former CEO of DB AG.