When Toyota gets on the horn by lunchtime to tell Tokyo’s media to show up at 4:30 the same day, everybody knows it will be a big surprise and an even bigger deal. Today, Japan’s Fourth Estate already knew what’s coming when the phone rang. It still was a big deal: Toyota completely reshuffled its top executives. It even brought a non-Japanese on board, a former GM man to boot. (Read More…)
“Dieter Zetsche is lucky that he can stay for three more years,” writes Der Spiegel in Germany. The labor side of Daimler’s Supervisory Board had demanded Dr. Z’s head, the magazine writes. After long debates with Daimler’s Supervisory Board Chairman Manfred Bischoff, a compromise was found. (Read More…)
It is unusual that the supervisory board of a large German corporation denies the dearest wishes of its Management. If the board does not like a wish, the wish usually won’t be rendered in the first place, the tight community of executive assistants will see to it. It would be most unusual that the board denies the wish of its CEO to run the company for another five years. Daimler’s board did the impossible: It denied Dieter Zetsche’s wish for another five-year contract, and gave Dr. Z. three years to get Daimler’s house in order. It’s a mission impossible. The mustachioed will sit out his career as a fall guy. (Read More…)
Bob Nardelli will be leaving Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that famously owned Chrysler during the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. Nardelli served as Chrysler CEO from 2007 until the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
[UPDATE: Fiat press release outlining the complete new management structure added]
The awaited consolidation of Fiat and Chrysler operations is complete, reports Bloomberg, and CEO Sergio Marchionne is taking the North American job for himself. Joining Marchionne at the top of the company’s new regionally-based divisions, are Gianni Coda, former head of purchasing at Fiat and now the boss of European, African and Middle East operation; Cledorvino Belini, erstwhile head of Fiat in Brazil is now in charge of all of South America; Michael Manley, previously boss of the Jeep brand, will be leading the firm’s effort Asia. These four regional bosses will be part of a 22-member “group executive council” which will manage all of Fiat and Chrysler’s operations. The details of the council’s makeup still haven’t been released, but the big news is well encapsulated by a quote from Gianluca Spina, chairman of the business school at Polytechnic University of Milan.
Marchionne’s decision to keep the role of overseeing the business in North America shows that the center of gravity of the combined entity will be in the U.S… The integration process is going extremely fast, as is Marchionne’s style.
When Fiat and the US government collaborated to bail out and restructure Chrysler, many hailed the news as nothing less than the rescue of the American auto industry. Though Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne became CEO of the Auburn Hills-based automaker, he maintained much of its management corps on the strength of brief interviews, only relieving a few key members of the old guard. But the debate over whether the rapidly-aligning Fiat-Chrysler is more Fiat or Chrysler is going to be resolved “pretty quickly” according to Marchionne, as Bloomberg reports that a unified management structure is in the works.
Marchionne is working on management changes as he steps up the integration of the two companies. He plans to merge the carmakers to reduce costs and achieve a target of more than 100 billion euros ($140 billion) in combined revenue by 2014. The executive said in May that the timing of a merger hasn’t been decided yet, adding that a combination isn’t likely this year.
But just as there was furor in Italy when Marchionne suggested that the unified Fiat-Chrysler could be headquartered in Detroit, the unified management structure could be yet another source of controversy. It will, after all, be the most direct signal yet as to whether Fiat-Chrysler is an Italian firm with global operations, an Italian-American alliance or a truly global firm. For one thing, unified management should force Marchionne to commit to a single headquarters for the group, reviving a controversy he temporarily cooled by fatuously suggesting there be four Fiat-Chrysler “headquarters,” in Turin, Detroit, Brasil and “Asia.” Having masterfully finessed the PR messaging transition from “rescue of an American automaker” to “wholly owned subsidiary” thus far, a unified management could bring up a lot of unresolved issues. In short, it’s a branding challenge that makes the Chrysler-Lancia transformation look like child’s play…
I hate to get all “workers of the world unite”, but management seems to get away with a hell of a lot more than the rank and file. Take Prudential’s bid to take over AIG’s Asian arm. The bid failed and the whole exercise cost Prudential £377m (about $579.5m). Digest that figure for a second, then digest the next fact. The CEO, Tidjane Thiam, refuses to stand down over this mistake. Now consider this, if you, as a rank and file member, would cost the company you work for just 1 percent of that previous figure, could you honestly expect to keep your job? Now let’s look at the FIATsco incident. The whole affair cost GM $2b. Again, had you have cost the company you work for just 1 percent of that figure, could you keep you job? After writing this paragraph, I find the next story almost heartwarming. (Read More…)
Further to Ed Niedermeyer’s comments on local content of cars, Toyota announces changes to the most precious content of all: Who’s in the top slots of their presences abroad. In one fell swoop, Toyota replaced leading positions in the U.S.A. and Europe with local content. (Read More…)
GM’s CEO Ed Whitacre has told the remaining employees that his purges of senior management are complete. “I want to reassure you that the major leadership changes are behind us,” Whitacre wrote in a March 31 letter obtained by Bloomberg. “The team we have in place today is the team that will take us forward.” (Read More…)
You know how terrorism experts talk about increased “internet chatter” as foretelling some kind of attack? On Monday, GM will release its post-C11 financial results which, thanks to dubious accounting, could very well mean nothing. Even so, I’m getting the feeling that there’s some bad news a brewin’, ’cause the MSM is kissing some major GM butt today. First, the Freep shows GM’s Chairman of the Board the love that dare not grant it an interview. Now the Times’ Bill Vlasic, late of the Detroit News, shows up with a piece that supposedly reveals the depth and breadth of GM’s much ballyhooed “cultural change.” Mea culpa comes in the form of “After bankruptcy, G.M. Struggles to Shed a Legacy of Bureaucracy.” While I’m a firm believer that cultural change starts at the top—such as, I dunno, firing the ancien regime that led to GM’s nationalization—I’m all ears, Bill. Where’s the evidence that la plus ca change, la plus ce n’est pas la même chose?