Why Daimler proposed ex-BMW, VW CEO Pischetsrieder to lead supervisory board

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MUNICH — Daimler will propose former BMW and Volkswagen Group CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder to lead its supervisory board.

Pischetsrieder, 72, will succeed long-term Chairman Manfred Bischoff after Daimler’s annual meeting on March 31.

Pischetsrieder will become chairman as the Mercedes-Benz owner navigates through a seismic industry transformation. “Bernd Pischetsrieder is one of the most internationally recognized automotive experts,” Bischoff said in a statement on Thursday. “His expertise and wealth of experience are of outstanding importance for Daimler.”

Pischetsrieder’s nomination comes after former Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche withdrew his candidacy for the job amid opposition from some shareholders unhappy about the automaker’s results during his tenure.

Pischetsrieder began his career at BMW in his home city of Munich in 1973 as a production planning engineer. He was BMW CEO from 1993 to 2000. Under his leadership BMW bought Rover Group from British Aerospace in 1994. After failing to turn around the UK’s biggest automaker, BMW sold Rover Group in 2000 to the Phoenix consortium.

Pischetsrieder was CEO of Volkswagen Group from 2002 to 2006 but was ousted after he lost a power struggle with then-Chairman Ferdinand Piech.

Pischetsrieder has been a member of Daimler’s supervisory board since 2014.

In Germany, a supervisory board signs off on a company’s strategy and major decisions. Operational decisions are carried out by a management board led by the CEO.

Daimler has embarked on a major overhaul under Zetsche’s successor as CEO, Ola Kallenius.

The automaker is focused on reviving returns by concentrating more on bigger cars such as the flagship S-Class sedan and cutting thousands of jobs. Kallenius has also forged new cooperations with peers and technology firms and plans to boost the company’s software operations.

Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Saurabh Shukla

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