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Jenoptik mourns the passing of Lothar Späth

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lothar Späth, former Chairman of the Jenoptik Executive and Supervisory Boards, at the age of 78 in Stuttgart.

Lothar Späth

“Lothar Späth was both an important politician and entrepreneur. We have now lost a person who created and changed a great deal with his vision, courage, and ability – and not just at Jenoptik. We are mourning the death of Lothar Späth, who set our company on its course to success,” said Michael Mertin, CEO at JENOPTIK AG. Lothar Späth invested courageously and with strategic vision in competitive processes, trusting in people’s abilities and enthusiasm to get things done.

“Lothar Späth built up Jenoptik with his exceptional combination of strategic persistence, pragmatic imagination, and an understanding of others. And he was able to leave his mark on an entire region in the context of the post-reunification situation. We will honor his memory with great admiration and appreciation,” added Matthias Wierlacher, Chairman of the Jenoptik Supervisory Board.

Lothar Späth guided Jenoptik through its first 16 years. In June 1991, he became managing director of JENOPTIK GmbH, the legal successor to VEB Carl Zeiss Jena. On June 16, 1998, he led Jenoptik as it went public on the stock market as the first eastern German high-tech company. And in June 2003, Lothar Späth gave up his position as CEO and became Chairman of the Supervisory Board, where he remained through June 2007.

As Michael Mertin recalled: “It was his initiative that made it possible for Jenoptik to survive and to develop into the successful global player that it is today.” It was also Lothar Späth who managed to transform segments of the old East German industrial sector into a success in post-reunification Germany, alongside companies such as Zeiss and Schott. He made acquisitions, some of which form part of the core of Jenoptik today and, in doing so, opened up new markets for the city of Jena’s vast optical competence, fashioning it into a new “Optical Valley”. With his vision and foresight, he was also a great influence on the development of the city as a whole throughout the changes of the 1990s. His major decisions involved, for example, the rapid transformation of a former industrial complex in the town’s center, the creation of an “investor center” as a meeting place for international investors, the establishment of renowned institutes, and the incorporation of start-up enterprises into Jenoptik through its DEWB AG holding company.

Lothar Späth was not only an economic trailblazer but also a leader in terms of social involvement, establishing cultural and social endeavors as an integral part of the Jenoptik company culture. He invited American artist Frank Stella to exhibit his work outside Jenoptik headquarters, initiated the Jenoptik art collection, and launched the company’s own “tangente” exhibition series in Jena. Building on his reputation and driven by his innovative spirit, Lothar Späth was able to open new doors not only for Jenoptik but for the region as a whole. He was granted the city of Jena’s highest honors in 1997.

We would like to express our condolences to Lothar Späth’s family and friends.

Jenoptik Group

Katrin Lauterbach

Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing

+49 3641 65-4455

+49 3641 65-2484