Daimler CEO discussions reiterated image

Now that Mercedes-Benz Cars production boss Andreas Renschler surprisingly departed, the discussions about Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche successor have reignited.

Succession has been a divisive issue at Daimler, and last year the supervisory board extended 60-year-old Zetsche’s contract by three years, instead of an expected five. The board also shuffled senior managers to test the potential of other leadership candidates.

Zetsche remains head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, where Renschler was head of manufacturing. Renschler’s departure, Daimler’s recovery, and Zetsche’s recent charm offensive toward labor unions, may bolster his prospects of another contract extension.

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

No successor has been chosen and Zetsche’s contract terms are unaltered, a Daimler spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Renschler, 55, took on the production 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.

The Wall Street Journal said that one reason for Renschler’s resignation might be that he was having to wait too long to take the top job. “If Dieter wants to work for six years, I would not be happy to do my job,” Renschler was quoted as saying by the paper.

Daimler said the comments had been misunderstood. “Renschler’s comments have been taken out of context. He merely wanted to point out that he is not an obvious succession candidate because he is of a similar age as Dieter Zetsche, and would therefore not be a candidate to lead Daimler when Zetsche retires, whenever this may happen,” a spokesman said.

Analysts cite three Daimler executives who are seen as contenders if Zetsche’s contract is not extended. They are: Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber, 54; Bernhard, 53; and Hubertus Troska, 53, head of its China operations, Berstein Research analysts said in a note.

Via Automotive News Europe