Last night, Eesti Energia council with Erkki Raasuke at helm elected current Nord Pool Spot Baltic and Russia region head Hando Sutter as new CEO to step into office this December. The contract goes for three years expiring on November 30th 2017.
Mr Sutter, a man not too well-known publicly, has been in management for 20 long years and holds a mechanics engineer degree from Tallinn University of Technology.
The competition for new EE chief was proclaimed on July 29th as the contract of Sandor Liive, CEO for these past nine years, is over on November 30th. In the ad, a potential head for EE, a state company with €975m of turnover and €160m of profits for 2013, was required master’s degree, and a minimum of six years in top management as board member of major company or organisation.
20 applications poured in, including by Mr Liive himself and Oliver Kruuda – for instance. As already announced by previous chairman Jüri Käo, and additional targeted search was in store to get the right guy. Erkki Raasuke, chairman since September, this Thursday said Mr Sutter never run for the post. Thus, in all probability, an experienced chief for EE was secured in the targeted way.
Erkki Raasuke has a history of helping find change-the-course CEOs for state enterprises: in 2012, as chairman of Estonian Air, he appointed Jan Palmér and assisted in getting Aivo Adamson – a banker – to head Road Administration. Both have done rather well in their seats. In a press release issued yesterday, all Mr Raasuke said in explanation was that during the search organised by council, Mr Sutter secured bulk of the support.
According to Mr Raasuke, under the hand of up-to-now chief Sandor Liive Eesti Energia has undergone strong and significant development and he thanks the man for his long-term heartfelt commitment. All in all, Mr Liive worked at Eesti Energia board for 16 years – starting as financial director, and then as CEO.
Publicly, Hando Sutter is best known for his past years' role as regional head for electricity exchange NPS. It was he that explained to Estonians, as the electricity market opened up, what electricity exchange was all about, how it trades and how the electricity price is shaped. From then onwards, he has kindly and patiently provided information on why the electricity is so expensive, at the exchange, on some days.
In addition to working at the exchange, Mr Sutter owns OÜ Saaremaa Ökoküla established as early as 1999 and currently raising sheep and cows. According to local newspaper Saarte Hääl, Saaremaa Ökoküla related firms have about 150 Scottish highland cattle and 2,000 sheep – pastured on West-Saaremaa protected areas. At the end of last year, Mr Sutter was vigorously involved in protecting the interests of those maintaining semi-natural biotic communities.
In the press release, Mr Sutter said being Eesti Energia CEO comes with vast responsibility before clients, employees, and the public. «I thank Eesti Energia council for trusting me to lead Estonia’s most interesting enterprise, and I promise to do my best to further develop the flagship of our energy.»
Eesti Energia general meeting in the person of finance minister Jürgen Ligi said he did not know Mr Sutter and has never met him, but that the council long and thoroughly considered the options. «I had no reason to intervene the process,» noted Mr Ligi.
To Sandor Liive, Mr Ligi has no reprimands. «The firm was professionally managed, though under constant criticism by the public. At that, the conditions have been very complex, the situations have changed – the climate policy and political preferences. With all of that, the company has well adjusted and changed profile,» described Mr Ligi. «I know there are people who have had problems working with Mr Liive, but not me.»
Eesti Energia has informed London Stock Exchange that the other board members will be elected soon according to advice by Mr Sutter. In November this year, powers of board members Margus Kaasik and Raine Pajo expire as well. With fourth member, Margus Rink, the date is April 13th 2016.
• Education: Nõo Secondary School; Tallinn University of Technology (mechanics engineer), and Estonian Business School (Master’s in business)
• 1994–1999 board member at AS ESS Group
• 1999–2002 commercial director at Tolaram Investments
• 2002–2007 board member at Olympic Entertainment Group
• 2007–2009 Baltic Broadband AS chief
• Starting 2010, Nord Pool Spot AS regional manager