BMW (US) Holding Corp. last week tapped Tom Purves, head of sales and marketing for Rover Group, to replace Henrich Heitmann as chairman and CEO effective May 1.
BMW (US) Holding Corp. is the parent of BMW of North America and Land Rover North America and is in charge of sales and distribution in North, Central and South America.
Heitmann moved from the U.S. job to a board of management post at parent BMW AG in Germany, as did his predecessor.
Meanwhile, the parent company in Germany also announced that 1998 net income fell 27.5 percent to about $502 million despite record pre-tax profit of $2.2 billion for BMW-brand automobiles. The difference: a $1 billion pre-tax loss at the Rover subsidiary and continuing losses at the aerospace unit.
The Purves appointment was part of a BMW boardroom reshuffling that follows last month's ouster of CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder:
Helmut Panke, 52, head of human resources, will head the finance and business management department. Panke was the first chairman of BMW (US) Holding Corp. BMW created the post in 1993. Panke's successor in 1997, the 57-year-old Heitmann, was promoted to the board of management in February, to run worldwide sales.
Ernst Baumann, 50, succeeds Panke at human resources.
Gunter Lorenz, 56, takes over the newly established financial services and shareholding companies department. That entity represents more than 40 percent of BMW's assets, the company said. Lorenz had been in charge of finance and business management.
BMW also marked the end of an era: Eberhard von Kuenheim, chairman of the BMW supervisory board, has reached the mandatory age limit of 70 and will not be eligible to stand for re-election in a May 18 shareholder vote.
Von Kuenheim was chairman of the board of management from 1970-93 and has been chairman of the supervisory board since then. Supervisory board elections take place every five years.
LAND ROVER INCLUDED
Some Rover brands have thrived under BMW, especially Land Rover, which had record sales in 1998. And the new Rover 75 model has been well received so far. Purves said in February that the Rover Group is expected to break even in 2000.
The appointment means Purves likely will oversee the expected return to North America of Rover brands like MG and perhaps Rover itself.
Purves also may be around for BMW's takeover of the Rolls-Royce brand in 2003.