Daimler Extends Zetsche’s CEO Deal to 2019

Revival of Mercedes silences critics.

by on Apr.02, 2015

Dieter Zetsche will remain in place as Daimler AG CEO through 2019 after a three-year contract extension.

The Daimler AG Board of Supervisors plans to extend the contract of the company’s chief executive officer, Dieter Zetsche, through 2019.

Manfred Bischoff, chairman of the board of supervisors, told shareholders that Zetsche’s contract would be extended for another three years. Zetsche’s current contract expires at the end of 2016. The announcement drew few comments, pro or con, from the more than 5,000 shareholders, who gathered in Berlin for the company’s annual meeting.

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Zetsche, who has never been wildly popular with Daimer’s often-critical shareholders, has served as Daimler CEO since 2006 when he took over the company from Juergen Schrempp, the architect of the ill-fated merger with Chrysler, which Zetsche dissolved in 2007.

After failing behind archrivals BMW and Audi earlier during Zetsche’s tenure, Mercedes-Benz, Daimler’s principal asset, has staged a comeback by rejuvenating the company’s passenger car product line, which have helped maintain and even extend the company’s product line.

Part of that new growth is expected to come from Internet sales. Zetsche announced during the shareholder meeting the maker is testing a system in Hamburg and Warsaw that allows the automaker, through its online store, to enter into a dialogue with people who had previously had little or no with a Mercedes dealership, he said.

“Last year we had approximately a quarter of a million s with potential customers,” he noted. “Many of them made an appointment for a test drive and some of them also bought their cars online.”

(Mercedes-Benz uses Internet to pave path to sales. For more, Click Here.)

Mercedes-Benz is also making a bid to expand in China where both BMW and Audi have enjoyed enormous success during the past decade. Mercedes-Benz sales in China were up more than 25% last year.

(Click Here for details about Mercedes plans to jump into pickup truck market.)

Also easing shareholder concerns about Zetsche’s tenure as the company’s top executive was a 30% increase in the value of Daimler shareholders. The growth of Daimler shares have not kept pace with those of BMW during the past five or 10 years, noted a disgruntled shareholder.

(To get a first look at the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE, Click Here.)

The extension of Zetsche’s contract also appears to have headed off a potential succession crisis inside the company. No clear-cut successor to Zetsche has emerged yet. The contract extension makes it less likely that a successor could come from the company’s board of management since all but Olla Kalenius, head of Mercedes-Benz marketing and sales, would be considered too old to replace Zetsche by the time he retires at the beginning of the next decade. Another potential candidate, Wolfgang Bernard, is unlikely to win the necessary approval of union and employee representatives.

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