BMW's latest management board shuffle hints at who will succeed current CEO Norbert Reithofer. So who are the winners and losers?
Well, at first glance it doesn't look good for sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson, who loses oversight of the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands. The Englishman is now responsible for sales and marketing for the BMW brand and its BMW M and BMW i sub-brands.
This seems to be a demotion for the only non-German member of BMW's management board, but Robertson still has a key role because of the pivotal importance of the core BMW brand and its future sales.
The board's youngest member, human resources boss Harald Krueger, takes on tasks previously overseen by Robertson. He will manage a newly-formed division with responsibility for Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW motorcycles, including the product lines and marketing and sales and will also be in charge of expanding BMW's aftersales business.
Krueger is seen internally as most likely potential successor to Reithofer and he will now have more operational responsibility. He will gain valuable experience but has to prove his abilities. "Krueger has been entrusted with a difficult and highly complex job with three completely different groups of customers," says IHS Automotive analyst Christoph Stuermer. "Things could go very wrong, very quickly for him if he's not careful."
Spanish-born Milagros Caina-Andree will replace Krueger as head of personnel when she joins the automaker in July from Deutsche Bahn's Schenker logistics unit. She will be BMW's first female management board member and the second non-German after Robertson.
Caina-Andree's appointment is doubly significant. It's rare that BMW recruits a top-tier executive from outside the company and she will also be the carmaker's first female management board member.
Krueger's main rival for Reithofer's job is purchasing boss Herbert Diess, who switches roles with r&d board member Klaus Draeger. Diess will assume responsibility for r&d while Draeger will head purchasing.
Diess is well-regarded for his success in cutting purchasing costs and the Quandt family, BMW's majority stakeholders, love competition among their top executives.
Krueger or Diess could succeed Reithofer in 2016 when Reithofer turns 60 and must retire, according to long-established BMW policy.
BMW is stronger than ever and this year expects to surpass last year's record sales of 1.67 million cars, so the company has not done the reshuffle because it is weak and in need of a shakeup.
The changes follow the carmaker's tradition of regularly swapping the roles of board members. The shuffle keeps the top team and adds a woman to the mix.