In ConversationPoint of View

“I always believed in Rheinmetall”

13. February 2024

Dagmar Steinert has been responsible for finance at Rheinmetall AG since December 2022 in the role of CFO. This makes her one of the few female Executive Board members at Germany’s DAX companies. In this interview, she talks about Rheinmetall’s soaring share price, new markets, future investments – and why success and sustainable business activity are inextricably linked.
(Image: Ralf Grothe,

Dagmar Steinert,

born in 1964, is responsible for finance at Rheinmetall AG in the role of CFO. After obtaining a degree in business administration, the certified auditor and tax advisor worked for various audit companies. She joined Rheinmetall in 2003, where she served as the Head of Accounting for ten years. She was a member of the Supervisory Board of KSPG from 2008 and remained in this role until the end of 2015, even after leaving Rheinmetall. Dagmar Steinert joined Fuchs petrolub SE in Mannheim in April 2013. After almost three years as Head of Investor Relations, she was appointed as the company’s CFO on 1 January 2016. She returned to Rheinmetall in December 2022, when she was appointed to the Executive Board of the technology group in the role of Chief Financial Officer.

Ms Steinert, does the Rheinmetall CFO need to know the price of a tank?
Of course. The Group relies on its operating business, and it is important for me to be familiar with our technologies and products. That said, there is no such thing as a list price for a tank – the prices vary considerably depending on the model type and the size of the order.

At the same time, you always have your eye on the stock market. Rheinmetall’s share price is at a record high and is fast approaching the EUR 300 mark. How do you see things developing from here?
There is no doubt that our share price performance is extremely encour­aging. But that alone is no reason for us to pop the champagne. After all, the sharp rise in our share price is a logical consequence of the current market situation – and the performance we are delivering. In other words, one thing follows the other. There is further upside potential because our prospects are good: Our annual sales are expected to increase to EUR 13-14 billion by 2026, accompanied by a margin of over 15 percent. According to analyst estimates in December 2023, the market is anticipating an average target price of almost EUR 350.

You are in charge of the Group’s finances and keep a close eye on cost control and the capital markets. What else falls within your remit?
Above all, I am responsible for ensuring that we obtain the best possible financing conditions for our business activities. We realize large projects, some of which involve ten-figure volumes. Our goal is to keep interest expenses as low as possible. At the same time, we need to ensure that we always have enough liquidity to finance our operations throughout the year. Limiting exchange rate risk is also important with a view to our global business.

Looking at the global picture, we find ourselves in a world in turmoil, with outbreaks of war and growing tension in various regions…
Yes, the political and economic en­vironment is a challenging one. There are a lot of dependencies, especially for Germany and its export-oriented economy. The security situation is a critical factor. As far as global supply chains are concerned, the most important aspect is a stable political situation in Asia, and especially in China. Various factors will determine whether we slip into a recession or begin to see an economic recovery. In Germany, the way in which the automotive industry addresses technological change will play a key role.

And yet the Group’s business success appears to be unaffected…
It is true that our military business is benefiting from the dynamic market environment and the sharp rise in demand. By contrast, the situation for our civilian business is currently less favourable, and there is certainly room for improvement in terms of profitability. But we are making good progress towards successfully exiting the area of combustion technology. All in all, we believe we are very well positioned.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was a turning point in its own right, but it also marked the start of a new era for Rheinmetall. Was this one of the reasons behind your move to Rheinmetall in late 2022?
No, I made my decision as long ago as 2021, when some people still had an unfavourable view of the Group. I had always believed in Rheinmetall – and I know what I am talking about, since I worked for the company from 2003 to 2013.

20 March 2023 was an important day in the company’s history: Rheinmetall was included in the DAX, the stock market index of Germany’s biggest companies. You attended the opening bell cere­mony at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange…
Yes, it was an unforgettable day – the kind of event you are happy to have experienced at least once in your life. More than anything, though, I was delighted for the company’s employees, whose hard work made this achievement possible in the first place. My own contribution was modest by comparison.

One exciting major project where you did make a big contribution was the acquisition of the Spanish company Expal Munitions. Financing is critical for any transaction of this kind…
Absolutely. We chose to issue convertible bonds with a volume of EUR 1 billion. The tight schedule was only achievable thanks to outstanding teamwork – including with the advisors and banks involved. This enabled us to place the two bonds at extremely good conditions within a short space of time.

Rheinmetall was included in the MDAX index for mid-cap stocks until March 2023. Has the promotion to the DAX made it easier for you to get the attention of analysts, investors and banks?
If you are not getting the necessary attention as a member of the MDAX, you are not doing your job properly. Having said that, interest among banks has increased significantly since our inclusion in the DAX. This is also a natural consequence of the market situation and the boom we are enjoying. Our media presence has also grown considerably, and our membership of the DAX is undoubtedly one of the reasons for this.

Philipp von Brandenstein (l.), Head of Corporate Communications, and Oliver Hoffmann, Head of Public Relations, in conversation with CFO Dagmar Steinert (Image: Ralf Grothe,

Rheinmetall is forecasting annual sales growth of around 20 percent over the next few years. Are these encouraging prospects also accompanied by challenges and risks?
Needless to say, we will have to manage our growth, get our products on the road, and make sure we satisfy our delivery obligations on schedule and in the quality that is expected of us.

Delivery capacity is an important issue. How do you secure your supply chains? What precautions do you take?
We make sure that we have adequate stocks of critical parts and materials, but we are aware that this ties up financial resources and impacts our free cash flow. As such, it is important that we do not make too many advance payments and that we secure corres­ponding payments from our customers in order to limit our own funding requirements.

Prior to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the planned EU taxonomy was the subject of intensive polit­ical debate. The project is currently on ice, but it could return to the agenda. What is your position?
The EU taxonomy is a regulatory and technocratic approach that I believe entails a significant competitive disadvantage for European compan­ies. I expect the EU to take political countermeasures and adopt a more realistic position. Everyone is now well aware that we need security, and that taking the necessary precautions is a matter of national importance. Inadequate protection puts you at risk of losing your freedom. As such, there is no sense in stigmatising an entire industry that is indispensable as far as security is concerned. Sustainability ends where war begins.

But you do consider sustainability to be more than just a buzzword?
Of course! Striving for sustainability forms part of our DNA as a company. After all, we help societies to protect themselves. Responsibility is enshrined in our corporate culture, and that includes a focus on sustainabil­ity. For example, our stated aim for the Group is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

Efforts to achieve sustainable business practices encompass the areas of environmental, social and governance. What role do ESG criteria play for you?
A vital one. We can only be successful in the long term if we integrate economic, ecological and social criteria into our corporate strategy – as we already do. It goes without saying that we want to contribute to the economically stable and environmentally responsible development of our society. The responsible and considerate use of natural resources in line with environmental criteria is a matter of principle for us. With a view to social considerations, we believe in deliver­ing security for society as a whole and engaging with our employees in a respectful and responsible manner. And when it comes to governance, I can only say that we would be making ourselves vulnerable and jeopardising our own business if we failed to pursue responsible corporate governance at every level.

So ESG is one of your core concerns…
Definitely. And we want to be judged by the success we achieve. To this end, the remuneration paid to the members of the Executive Board and the next management level is also tied to the achievement of our ESG targets.

Rheinmetall faces the challenge of satisfying the huge demand on the part of the armed forces – not only in Ukraine, but also among the NATO partners and the EU member states. You are expanding your capacities, recruiting additional employees and modernising your facilities. That all costs a lot of money…
It is true that we are investing on a large scale. In 2023 alone, our investment volume came in at around EUR 550 million, after EUR 350 million in the previous year. However, this is not a burden we are bearing on our own. When it comes to major projects, we receive some support from customers, such as for new plants. In other words, it depends on the cooperation with our partners. Everything we do has to pay off for us in the end.

Rheinmetall acts globally, including on the financial markets. You have contacts in North America. Where do you see potential for investors?
We are indeed seeing an encouraging level of investor interest in the US and Canada. Rheinmetall is considered to be an attractive investment.

What arguments would you make in order to win over potential investors?
Our order situation is excellent. Our Rheinmetall backlog is extremely high – almost EUR 40 billion! – and this serves to secure our future business. We are in the middle of a strong growth phase and are forecasting average annual sales growth of more than 20 percent over the next few years, accompanied by high profitability. And because we work with government clients, defaults are unlikely. In other words, we have every reason to look to the future with confidence!

Among DAX companies, men account for four out of every five Executive Board members. The proportion of women at the companies in the three biggest stock market indices is only around 15 percent. Would you be in favour of fixed quotas for women?
We will soon generate 80 percent of our sales from military business. That understandably raises questions about our civilian business. Market observers can see that our civilian activities are not as profitable as our military business. But we are working to improve this and establishing clear structures. We have now consolidated our civilian business in a new division, “Power Systems”. We have adopted ambitious profitability targets for each area. We want to preserve our character as a broad-based technology company.

Among DAX companies, men account for four out of every five Executive Board members. The proportion of women at the companies in the three biggest stock market indices is only around 15 percent. Would you be in favour of fixed quotas for women?
No, I do not agree with the idea. To be successful, you need to be good at your job, whether you are a man or a woman. If you are a good fit for a company and its culture, your gender really doesn’t matter. By imposing quotas, you run the risk of making successful women feel like they have to justify themselves as having got their job because of their qualifications rather than through box-ticking.

What would be your advice for young women who might look to your career for inspiration?
Think about your own strengths and weaknesses. If you are fully committed to what you do, you will do it well and be successful. And that is how you develop professionally. I did not originally intend to become a Chief Financial Officer. Young people should be open-minded – and try to stay that way even as they get older.

Interview conducted by Oliver ­Hoffmann and Dr Philipp von Brandenstein

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