Daimler CEO Zetsche retires, Ola Kaellenius takes over, BMW produces funny video

WNM | May 22, 2019 at 11:35 PM

BERLIN, May 22 (WNM staff) - After 13 years as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the German luxury car maker Daimler, Dieter Zetsche officially retired at the company's annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday.

Zetsche had already announced last year that he would hand over his office to Ola Kaellenius at Daimler's 2019 AGM.

Kaellenius was previously chief development officer at the German car maker and Zetsche was convinced that Kaellenius would be the right person to "lead Daimler into the future".

BMW produced a farewell-video, based on the story that Zetsche, now independent, has a secret in his garage. BMW writes:

"In the business world, rivalry is often associated with respect, and when it comes to that, the German automakers have proven to be good sports over the years. To bid farewell to Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche, known as Dr. Z, BMW released a video congratulating him on his retirement.

In a clip distributed by BMW, a camera follows a Zetsche lookalike – complete with his signature mustache and funky glasses – around on his last day at work. The scenario sees Zetsche handing in his work badge at the front desk, bidding farewell to employees in the lobby, before being whisked back home by a chauffeured black Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.

After the car drops him off, Zetsche sneaks into the garage to pick up his well hidden BMW i8 sports. The caption: Free at Last."

Daimler was only half-amused. On Twitter, the company replied to the BMW offer showing two horse riding men saying: "We guess our boss would rather rely on real horse power for his retirement ride. However, thanks for the tribute - and the competition."

Zetsche thanked the company's supervisory board and shareholders "for their trust and support in recent years" during his speech at the AGM on Wednesday.

He called for the Kaellenius and his management team to be accompanied "with the same constructive and trusting approach" in future.

Daimler's supervisory board announced that it is intending to propose Zetsche to be elected to the supervisory board at the 2021 AGM after a two-year "cooling off period" for Zetsche.

Zetsche has handed over the position of CEO to Kaellenius ahead of what Daimler has called the "most comprehensive reorganization" in its more than 130-year history.

Under the company restructuring program, named Project Future, Daimler is intending to spin off the three divisions Mercedes-Benz AG, Daimler Truck AG and Daimler Mobility AG as legally independent divisions.

As a result of the restructuring, about 130,000 employees of Daimler in Germany will "undergo a transfer" to the new companies.

"Daimler aspires to be a leader in the new era of mobility," said Manfred Bischoff, chairman of Daimler's supervisory board.

This would require a "high degree of innovativeness and flexibility" and with Project Future, Daimler would be "giving itself a corporate structure that reflects and supports its strategic orientation", added Bischoff.

Daimler is aiming for its new corporate structure to come into effect in November 2019.