Restless Krause quits BMW

Automaker’s former numbers man to become chief financial officer at Deutsche Bank

Stefan Krause
MUNICH -- After 20 years at BMW, Stefan Krause decided he couldn’t wait for the top job any longer.

He left his position as board member for sales and marketing last Thursday to become Deutsche Bank’s chief financial officer, effective October 1. A BMW insider told Automotive News Europe that Krause, 45, had become restless after being passed over for the CEO position in favor of Norbert Reithofer, 51, in September 2006. He had been one of a small group of candidates in the running to succeed Helmut Panke.

“It was a career move,” said the source. “Krause apparently did not want to wait for his chance to become CEO of BMW.”

The source said that, nevertheless, Krause’s departure came as a surprise even to many of his BMW associates.

Krause’s departure is the latest in a series of senior-management changes that have taken effect since Reithofer took over as CEO in September 2006.

Insiders and analysts said Krause’s reassignment last year to to the sales and marketing position from his previous role as chief financial officer was a factor in his decision to leave.

Coming and going
Some of the changes to BMW’s management board since Norbert Reithofer took over as CEO in September 2006:
-- Stefan Krause leaves March 13 after more than 20 years with the automaker
-- Ian Robertson replaces Stefan Krause as head of sales and marketing, March 13
-- Friedrich Eichiner becomes head of corporate, brand development, October 1,2007
-- Herbert Diess becomes head of purchasing and supplier network, October 1,2007
-- Michael Ganal switches from head of sales to head of finance, October 1,2007
-- Frank-Peter Arndt becomes head of production, September 1,2006

Ian Robertson
Driven away

“It didn’t look like a promotion and it didn’t look like a natural fit for Krause,” said Philippe Houchois, a London-based auto analyst at JP Morgan. “It was probably a prelude for him to look for opportunities elsewhere.”

Last week, BMW quickly appointed Rolls-Royce CEO Ian Robertson to the position of board member for sales and marketing. Robertson, a British executive who doesn’t speak German, is the first non-German to sit on the automaker’s management board. He previously was president of BMW South Africa between 1999 and 2005. Last year, Rolls-Royce sold more than 1,000 cars worldwide for the first time since BMW bought the carmaker in 1998.

Krause leaves less than six months after Reithofer announced his Number One strategy to boost BMW’s profitability.

“The unity of the BMW management has to be questioned,” said Albrecht Denninghoff, an auto analyst at BHF Bank. “You do not change the management team during this critical time. You look to keep stability.”

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