Daimler names first non-German CEO


Daimler AG accelerated a management transition, naming development head Ola Kallenius to replace CEO Dieter Zetsche ahead of schedule as the German carmaker confronts jarring changes in the
automotive industry.
Kallenius, the first non-German to take the helm of Daimler, will become CEO in 2019, Daimler said in a statement. The 49-year-old Swede was already the heir apparent to long-serving Zetsche, 65, who has faced increasing headwinds this year with the adoption of new emissions tests, a German probe into Mercedes diesel engines and growing trade barriers between key sales regions.
“In Ola Kallenius, we are appointing a recognised, internationally experienced and successful Daimler executive,” said Chairman Manfred Bischoff, who’ll be replaced by Zetsche in 2021 following a two-year cooling-off period. “Dieter Zetsche has played a key role in shaping Daimler and has ensured its strategically outstanding positioning for the mobility of the future.”
Daimler shares fell as much as 2.4 percent in Frankfurt.
The transition at the top comes at a critical time for the world’s biggest luxury carmaker as well as commercial vehicle producer. Daimler in June was first among global auto producers to cut annual targets, faced with unpredictable fallout from trade tensions and pricing pressures on top of unprecedented spending on electric vehicles.
The company has also been working on an overhaul that will split Daimler into three separate units — cars, trucks and mobility services. The new structure is meant to give the CEO more flexibility to make decisions.
“In view of the challenges presented by the transformation of the automotive industry, the supervisory board intends to prepare a suitable succession at an early stage,” the company said. Daimler is betting on a long-serving employee who has risen through the ranks to the top job.

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