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Charles Schneider’s sudden death in August 1960 raised the thorny problem of succession. During this period the company was paralyzed by the decline of key business sectors such as steel manufacturing and shipbuilding. The Empain family gained control of the group in 1969, raising hopes of a turnaround.

The Empain years

But Baron Eduard-Jean Empain, leader of the new Empain-Schneider group, managed the business as if it were an investment portfolio, with a heavy focus on short-term profitability. The traditional segments moved deeper into recession and the Baron’s diversification did not produce expected results.