The buzz at BMW is that CEO Helmut Panke will be out next year -- not because of poor performance but because the supervisory board will hold to an internal rule that requires senior executives to step down after they turn 60.
Panke, whose contract expires next May, will be 60 on Aug. 31. The board has made exceptions in the past but is leaning toward not extending the CEO's contract, sources tell Automotive News' German sister publication, Automobilwoche.
Norbert Reithofer, BMW's production chief, is the leading candidate to replace Panke, says one source. But the 50-year-old Reithofer has some competition. Finance chief Stefan Krause, 43, and sales and marketing boss Michael Ganal, 51, are also in the running.
A decision on Panke's future could come as early as September.