DaimlerChrysler executive moves announced on Wednesday have gained the approval of analysts, according to a Dow Jones report.
DC announced it was moving Chrysler chief operating officerWolfgang Bernhard to Germany, where he will help run the Mercedes division with current chief Jurgen Hubbert who has said the unit needs to refocus its efforts on improving quality in the luxury brand. Tom LaSorda will take over as COO of Chrysler, with longtime Chrysler veteran Frank Ewasyshyn replacing LaSorda as executive vice president of manufacturing, the report noted.
Dow Jones said the management moves did not come as a surprise, as industry insiders have been speculating that the company would transplant Bernhard to Germany for well over a month.
“Bernhard is, in our view, one of the few DCX managers with the right experience blend to be able to effectively walk the line between sharing technology between Mercedes/Chrysler without risking Mercedes’ brand value,” JP Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel reportedly said in a research note.
According to Dow Jones, Patel said LaSorda, who moved to Chrysler from General Motors in 2000, “developed a solid track record in manufacturing productivity improvements during his GM days”.
Burnham Securities analyst David Healy reportedly said that the promotion of a North American executive to a top spot in the Chrysler group is significant.
Dow Jones noted that the company is embroiled in a shareholder lawsuit charging Daimler defrauded investors by claiming its takeover of Chrysler was going to be a “merger of equals.” Testimony in the trial ended last week, and both sides are waiting for the judge to rule, which could take as long as several months.
The report said that shareholders have also been critical of the fact that, since Daimler and Chrysler merged, Germans have held the top two positions at Chrysler.
Some speculate that Chrysler chief executive Dieter Zetsche is being readied to head the company once chairman Jurgen Schrempp retires from the board, Dow Jones added.
Wednesday’s executive moves are “an indicator that Stuttgart trusts the Americans after all,” Healy told Dow Jones which noted that many expect LaSorda will be able to produce leaner manufacturing operations.
“The jury is still out on that, obviously,” Healy reportedly said, adding: “But I think he’s a guy who’s been in the middle of it for years, and probably can take hold.”