FRANKFURT -- Key Daimler investors oppose Dieter Zetsche's elevation to chairman of the automaker's supervisory board, according to a report in the German business paper Handelsblatt.
Zetsche, 66, was succeeded as Daimler CEO in May by Ola Kallenius, 49. Daimler's current chairman, Manfred Bischoff, plans to recommend Zetsche's election as his successor to take effect at the end of the annual meeting in 2021, following a two-year transition period.
Handelsblatt said some investors are resisting the plan because they regard Zetsche as responsible for problems at the automaker that include falling profits, a costly diesel emissions recall in Europe that has still not been resolved, and recalls connected with problems with Takata airbags.
"A return of Dieter Zetsche to the supervisory board is completely out of the question for us," Michael Muders, fund manager at Union Investment, was quoted as saying by Handelsblatt.
Marc Tuengler, CEO of the German Association for the Protection of Securities Holdings, said it is "almost inconceivable" that Zetsche should move to the supervisory board, "let alone take over its chairmanship," the paper said.
Last month, Daimler cut its profit forecast for the fourth time in 13 months as it struggles to meet costs related to diesel emissions and recalls. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz vans unit has seen profitability plunge, with reports saying that the unit will drop the X-class pickup.
Among investors' criticism is that Zetsche repeatedly assured shareholders that Daimler, unlike Volkswagen Group, did not use any cheating software, even though Daimler is currently being investigated in Germany over allegations over such offenses.
In Germany, a company's supervisory board signs off on strategy and major decisions, hires senior managers and sets their pay. Its members are not involved in operational decisions. These are carried out by a management board led by the CEO.
Automobilwoche contributed to this report