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Renschler's suitors go beyond VW, report says

Ex-Daimler board member expects to start with a new company early next year

Renschler says he is assessing offers from a number of automotive companies.

Former Mercedes-Benz production chief Andreas Renschler has more than just the Volkswagen Group that is interested in hiring him, the executive told a German magazine.

Renschler is currently assessing offers from a number of automotive companies including VW, he told auto motor und sport in an interview.

VW Group is trying to hire Renschler to succeed trucks boss Leif Oestling as early as this year, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last week.

Renschler is attractive to the group, which is seeking cost savings through closer cooperation among its Scania, MAN and VW commercial-vehicles nameplates, because of his extensive experience in Daimler's truck unit, the world's biggest by revenue.

Renschler oversaw Daimler's truck business for almost nine years, managing the division's investments in emerging markets such as Russia and India before becoming Mercedes production head last April.

The 55-year-old German was seen as a strong contender to succeed Dieter Zetsche in the top job at Daimler, but Renschler has been quoted in media reports as saying he didn't believe he would rise any higher at Daimler, where he had worked since 1988.

Last week, Daimler said Renschler was leaving the company "for personal reasons" with immediate effect.

Asked today if Renschler might join Fiat's Iveco truck unit, Zetsche said Renschler's motives for leaving were "irrelevant" to him.

"We respect his decision and wish him well for the future," Zetsche added during Daimler's annual press conference in Stuttgart today.

No time pressure

Renschler also told auto motor und sport that he is not under any time pressure to make a decision and that he won't start a new job until early next year.

There is a clause in Renschler's contract that prevents him from making an immediate switch to a competitor, Daimler said, without revealing how long Renschler must wait.

Zetsche told Bloomberg last Thursday that Renschler won't be allowed to go to a rival for the "foreseeable future."

VW Group Chairman Ferdinand Piech said last Thursday he couldn't comment yet on Renschler because the automaker's supervisory board still needed to decide on the matter, the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper cited him as saying.

Oestling, whose contract expires next year, was involved in approaching Renschler as a possible successor, one of the sources told Bloomberg last week.

Douglas A. Bolduc and Paul McVeigh contributed to this story

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