Daim­ler CEO Zetsche to step down early, suc­ceeded by in­sider

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

Daim­ler CEO Di­eter Zetsche, who un­wound a trou­bled merger with Chrysler Cor­po­ra­tion and led the Ger­man au­tomaker to a string of record prof­its, will next year hand off to Ola Kal­le­nius, a long­time in­sider who heads ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment for the Mercedes-Benz brand.

The com­pany said Wed­nes­day that the change will take place in May and that Zetsche, 65, would be nom­i­nated to be­come head of the board in 2021 af­ter the term ex­pires for the cur­rent chair­man, Man­fred Bischoff.

Zetsche's lat­est three-year con­tract was to end in De­cem­ber 2019 and Kal­le­nius had fig­ured promi­nently in spec­u­la­tion about who would suc­ceed him.

Chair­man Bischoff said that by nom­i­nat­ing Zetsche early for the top board of di­rec­tors post, "we are en­sur­ing con­ti­nu­ity for the sus­tained suc­cess of Daim­ler AG."

"In Ola Kal­le­nius, we are ap­point­ing a rec­og­nized, in­ter­na­tion­ally ex­pe­ri­enced and suc­cess­ful Daim­ler ex­ec­u­tive," he said.

The 49-year-old Kal­le­nius, who was born in Vaster­vik, Swe­den, has headed group re­search and ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment for the key Mercedes-Benz lux­ury car divi­sion since the start of 2017. He worked as a man­ager in cor­po­rate con­trol­ling in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in the 1990s.

He is now slated to take over Zetsche's dual man­date as both head of the en­tire com­pany and the Mercedes divi­sion. The com­pany also makes trucks and buses and pro­vides fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

Kal­le­nius' job would be filled by Markus Schae­fer, head of pro­duc­tion and sup­ply chain ex­ec­u­tive at Mercedes.

Zetsche be­came CEO of what was then Daim­lerChrysler AG in 2006. A smooth pub­lic speaker, he ap­peared for a time in US tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials as "Dr. Z," end­ing his ex­pla­na­tions of how Ger­man tech­nol­ogy helped Chrysler brand ve­hi­cles with a cheery "auf wieder­se­hen."

His le­gacy in­cludes lead­ing Daim­ler out of its trou­bled 1998 merger with Chrysler, and sub­se­quently rack­ing up con­sec­u­tive years of record sales and prof­its.

The com­pany also faces sev­eral head­winds, how­ever. It is un­der scru­tiny by the US Jus­tice De­part­ment and Ger­man au­thor­i­ties in con­nec­tion with pos­si­ble diesel emis­sions vi­o­la­tions. And it is­sued a profit warn­ing in June cit­ing the US-China trade dis­pute, which will hit some of its cars made in the US and im­ported into China with new im­port taxes.

The com­pany is mov­ing to­ward a strate­gic over­haul that would split Daim­ler into three di­vi­sions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.