FRANKFURT - DaimlerChrysler AG said on Wednesday it intended to extend the contract of Chief Executive Juergen Schrempp until 2008 and appointed a new finance chief and a new head of its Mercedes luxury cars unit.
DaimlerChrysler said in a statement that its supervisory board had voted unanimously in favor of extending Schrempp's contract, which runs until the annual shareholder meeting in 2005, for a further three years.
The changes come as Schrempp, 59, battles to revive the group's struggling Chrysler division and fends off criticism of the 1998 link-up between Daimler-Benz and the U.S. automaker that he dubbed a "marriage made in heaven."
DaimlerChrysler shares, which are worth less than half their all-time high, gained 0.49 percent to 36.8 euros, slightly lagging the Dow Jones European autos index.
The world's fifth largest carmaker said Wolfgang Bernhard, currently COO of Chrysler, would take over as Mercedes chief, replacing Juergen Hubbert who will head the group's executive automotive committee. Bernhard and Hubbert will jointly manage Mercedes starting May 1. Bernhard, 43, takes control of the Mercedes car group on Aug. 1.
Bernhard, who oversaw aggressive cost-cutting at Chrysler as part of efforts to return it to profits, will be replaced by Thomas LaSorda, Chrysler's current manufacturing chief.
Frank Ewasyshyn, 51, takes over Chrysler group manufacturing as executive vice president. He reports to LaSorda.
DaimlerChrysler also confirmed Bodo Uebber would become CFO on Dec. 16, replacing Manfred Gentz, who is retiring. Uebber was promoted to the executive board last year as the designated successor to Gentz.
The Stuttgart-based group is due to provide details of a $892.2 million drop in year operating profits on Thursday and reveal whether Chrysler met its break-even target last year.
Automotive News contributed to this report.