Daimler executive's exit suggests CEO may stay on: analysts

Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:05am EST
 
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler's DAIGn.DE chief executive may have his contract extended beyond 2016 on the back of last year's recovery, analysts and executives said on Wednesday after the surprise departure of a Mercedes executive who was tipped for the top.

Succession has been a divisive issue at Daimler, and last year the supervisory board extended 60-year-old Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche's contract by three years, instead of an expected five, as well as reshuffling senior managers to gauge the potential of other leadership candidates.

Since then, Daimler has narrowed the sales gap with its premium-car rivals BMW BMWG.DE and Audi, and Mercedes-Benz has launched well-received new products.

Zetsche remains head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, where Andreas Renschler was head of manufacturing. He will leave the company with immediate effect, Daimler said late on Tuesday, citing "personal reasons".

His going, Daimler's recovery, and Zetsche's recent charm offensive toward labour unions, may bolster his prospects of another contract extension.

"The latest move means Zetsche's position is uncontested," one Daimler employee, who declined to be named, said.

No successor has been chosen and Zetsche's contract terms are unaltered, a spokeswoman for the company said on Wednesday.

POWER STRUGGLE

Renschler, 55, took on his new job at Mercedes in April as part of the executive reshuffle, which made him feel he had become a pawn in a power struggle between the supervisory board and Zetsche, a person familiar with his thinking said.   Continued...

 
Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz cars Dieter Zetsche speaks during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Lott