Professor Wolfgang Hilger, former CEO of Hoechst AG, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, passed away on April 20, 2020. He led the company from 1985 to 1994 and had a decisive role in shaping the company’s development. Hoechst AG has since become a part of Sanofi S.A., Paris, France.
Wolfgang Hilger was born on November 16, 1929, in Leverkusen, Germany, as the son of a manager at Bayer AG. He studied chemistry at the University of Bonn, Germany, and completed his Ph.D. in 1957. He started to work at Hoechst AG (then Farbwerke Hoechst AG) the following year.
Hilger spent his entire career at Hoechst AG. He joined the board of the company in 1974 and became CEO in 1985. He promoted the international growth of the company, notably with the acquisition of the Celanese Corporation, New York, USA, in 1987. The acquisition was the biggest foreign investment of a German company up to this point. Under his leadership, Hoechst stopped the production of chlorofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone layer and act as greenhouse gases.
Hilger also served as President of the Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI, German chemical industry association) in 1992 and 1993 and as Executive Director of the Robert Koch Foundation.
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