Daimler’s infamous man with the mustache will be exiting his role as CEO next year, paving the way for the company’s first non-German boss to pick up the reins. Dieter Zetsche will step aside following Daimler’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting next year, at which point Swedish-born Ola Källenius will take over as CEO and head of Daimler’s Board of Management.
Dr. Z won’t completely disappear, however. The shift in leadership comes with the announcement that Dr. Manfred Bischoff, chairman of Daimler's Supervisory Board, will leave the company once his term is up in 2021. Zetsche has been picked to be his replacement on that board, but before that can happen a two-year break from the company is required. So in essence, Zetsche will step down as CEO and chairman of the Management Board in 2019, take a two-year vacation, and return to Daimler as the head of the company’s Supervisory Board.
As for the incoming Daimler boss, Källenius currently sits on the Board of Management as the head of group research and Mercedes-Benz car development, a position he’s held since January 2015. Källenius is also a former head of AMG and has a history with the company dating back to the mid-1990s.
Is there a motive behind the shakeup? Daimler offers no such insight in its press release, but lingering fallout from Dieselgate and significant changes in the auto industry – not the least of which being the paradigm shift towards SUVs and mainstream electric vehicles – are making for sketchy times in the motoring business. Mercedes cuts its annual targets earlier this year, and there’s certainly pressure for the company to maintain its position as the number one luxury automaker in the world.
During Zetsche’s 12-year tenure as Daimler CEO, he oversaw the separation of the company from Chrysler and nixed Daimler's plans in the aviation world, using that money to further invest in Mercedes. His efforts saw the company top BMW in 2016 to become the top-selling luxury automaker, so he’s certainly had a heck of a run.
Daimler sets its course for the future: Dieter Zetsche to succeed Manfred Bischoff in the Supervisory Board – Ola Källenius to become Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG in 2019
- Supervisory Board prepares succession at an early stage
- Dieter Zetsche to be elected as member of the Supervisory Board in 2021
- Ola Källenius to be appointed for a new term of five years as Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of the Mercedes-Benz Cars division
Stuttgart, Germany – The regular expiry of the term of office of the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Manfred Bischoff, is at the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in 2021. 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 Supervisory Board of Daimler AG intends to propose to the shareholders at that meeting that Dieter Zetsche be elected as a member of the Supervisory Board. Manfred Bischoff will recommend the election of Dieter Zetsche as his successor as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, taking effect at the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in 2021.
In order to comply with the two-year cooling-off period, Dieter Zetsche will therefore step down from his position in the Board of Management of Daimler AG and as Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars effective at the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in 2019. In its meeting today, the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG therefore decided to appoint Ola Källenius for a new term of five years as Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, effective in direct connection, and also to appoint him as the Head of the Mercedes-Benz Cars division.
“As a long-standing member of the Board of Management and Chairman of the Board of Management, Dieter Zetsche has played a key role in shaping Daimler AG and has ensured its strategically outstanding positioning for the mobility of the future. His expertise and experience are extremely valuable for our company. Dieter Zetsche is predestined also to lead the company’s Supervisory Board prudently and successfully. As Chairman of the Board of Management, he has proven that he can lead Daimler AG also in difficult circumstances and can inspire employees to pursue ambitious goals. With Dieter Zetsche’s intended appointment as Chairman of the Supervisory Board, we are ensuring continuity for the sustained success of Daimler AG. In Ola Källenius, we are appointing a recognized, internationally experienced and successful Daimler executive as Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. At the same time, we are relying on the proven dual responsibility of the Chairman of the Board of Management as the head of the largest division, Mercedes-Benz Cars,” stated Manfred Bischoff, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG.
Michael Brecht, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG and Chairman of the General Works Council of Daimler AG: “With today’s resolutions and recommendations, the Supervisory Board has made powerful and good decisions. On the one hand, we are making the Board of Management of Daimler AG younger and thus giving it new impetus. On the other hand, by recommending the election of Dieter Zetsche to the Supervisory Board, the successful and trusting cooperation with him will be continued. In the Supervisory Board, we will continue to support the transformation into a mobility company, thus securing the successful course of the Daimler Group.”
Commenting on the nomination of Ola Källenius by the Supervisory Board, Dieter Zetsche said: “In various positions at Daimler, Ola Källenius has earned not only my respect, but also the recognition of his colleagues in very diverse areas. At the same time, he contributes a valuable international perspective. I therefore very much welcome the fact that the Supervisory Board has made this forward-looking personnel decision.” Further information is available in a blog entry by Dieter Zetsche at the Daimler blog.
The Supervisory Board has decided to appoint Markus Schäfer as the successor of Ola Källenius with responsibility for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development in the Board of Management of Daimler AG. Markus Schäfer has displayed outstanding leadership qualities and strategic farsightedness in various technical management positions at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division. He was appointed to the divisional board of management of Mercedes-Benz Cars in January 2014 and has been responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management since then. His contract of service was extended in 2017 until February 2022.
Ola Källenius was appointed to the Board of Management of Daimler AG effective January 2015 and is Member of the Board of Management for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development since January 2017. In February 2017, the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG extended his contract by five years until the end of December 2022.
Dieter Zetsche has been a member of the Board of Management since December 1998 and was appointed Chairman of the Board of Management of the former DaimlerChrysler AG in January 2006. In addition, he has been Head of the Mercedes-Benz Cars division since 2005. In February 2016, the Supervisory Board extended Dieter Zetsche’s contract by three years until the end of December 2019.
Manfred Bischoff has been a member of the Supervisory Board since 2006 and has been its Chairman since 2007. In 2016, the Supervisory Board reelected Manfred Bischoff as its Chairman until the end of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in 2021.
Curriculum vitae are available at: https://www.daimler.com/company/corporate-governance/
As a result of these personnel decisions by the Supervisory Board and the resolutions of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, the following appointments have been made at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division: Jörg Burzer, Head of Quality Management at Mercedes-Benz Cars, is to be the successor of Markus Schäfer. Wilko Stark, until now Head of Daimler Strategy and MBC Product Strategy and Planning & CASE, will take over the position of Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Procurement and Supplier Quality on October 1, 2018. As of October 1, 2018, the CASE/EVA organization is managed as a unit in the Mercedes-Benz Cars Divisional Board. Sajjad Khan, Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility, takes over the management in addition to its current position. As of October 1, 2018, Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, will report directly to the Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars to reflect the growing importance of this business.