Three management board members have left BMW AG after the German automaker's piecemeal sale of the troubled British Rover Group. Gone from the board are:
Carl-Peter Forster, 45, BMW production chief and one-time heir apparent to BMW chairman Joachim Milberg.
Wolfgang Ziebart, 50, who was in charge of research and development.
Henrich Heitmann, 58, the company's marketing chief.
The three had risen in prominence since the Feb. 5, 1999, boardroom battle in which former chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder was dismissed and second-in-command Wolfgang Reitzle resigned.
The retreat leaves the company in an exposed position weakened by the two successive depletions in management ranks, said Garel Rhys, director of the center for automotive industry research at Cardiff University in Wales.
'You're left with a very old board floundering around in the bourgeois provinces of Bavaria,' he said. 'They are no more an international company than the man in the moon.'
Rhys said the deal left BMW vulnerable to takeover from a company hungry for a prime luxury brand, such as general motors.