GERMANY: Chrysler chief unhappy over new Bernhard firing
The CEO of the Chrysler group criticised DaimlerChrysler AG on Tuesday for last week's decision to fire Wolfgang Bernhard as head of Mercedes just days before he would have officially started.
"The people at Chrysler and I are disappointed about this development," said Dieter Zetsche, also a member of DaimlerChrysler's management board, according to Reuters.
"He's a very good friend of mine," Zetsche told journalists on the sidelines of a Daimler technology symposium in Sindelfingen. Bernhard, 43, used to be the Chrysler group's COO.
Reuters said Bernhard would have jointly run Mercedes Car Group with current head Juergen Hubbert for three months starting on May 1, before assuming full responsibility for the group's most profitable unit.
But DaimlerChrysler's supervisory board reversed its decision on Thursday. Deputy chairman Erich Klemm had reportedly said that there were "concerns about whether Dr. Bernhard could fulfil these expectations" placed on him.
Sources at the company told Reuters that Bernhard, a proven cost cutter, had lost the confidence of the unions. Klemm is also head of the group's works council. The rising star of Daimler had also fallen in disfavour with Hubbert as well.
Reuters said Bernhard is expected to leave the company, while the group searches for a replacement. Hubbert's contract expires in spring next year, and the head of Mercedes has repeatedly said he would retire at that point.
Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler's Smart unit, is reported to be the top candidate for the job, Reuters said, adding that Renschler most recently lead the Daimler team that drafted the rescue plan for 37%-owned Mitsubishi Motors.
Daimler eventually decided in late April to cease all further financial support for Mitsubishi, although Juergen Schrempp insisted that it will retain a stake in the company, the report noted.