DaimlerChrysler next CEO will also run Mercedes

Chrysler head Dieter Zetsche, set to become DaimlerChrysler chief executive at the start of 2006, will also take charge of its Mercedes Car Group division Sept. 1 of this year, DaimlerChrysler said Thursday.

Current Mercedes chief Eckhard Cordes, who was passed over in the race for the group CEO job, is leaving the world's fifth-biggest carmaker at the end of August at his own request, the company said in a statement.

Under the accelerated switchover, Daimler said Chrysler Chief Operating Officer Thomas LaSorda will move up to head Chrysler, effective Sept. 1.

Zetsche could remain in charge of Mercedes for some time, a company source said.

"It can be somewhat longer term, perhaps even more than a year," the source said on condition of anonymity, but a search was already on for an internal successor, he added, reports CNN.

Zetsche, 52, "wants to stabilize the situation at Mercedes. He wants to restore calm. He wants to tackle the challenge of (loss-making minicar unit) Smart and the whole quality issue and wants to continue on the path that has been started down," a company source said to Reuters.

Cordes, 54, took over at Mercedes in October after heading the commercial vehicles business. He quit when the carmaker picked Zetsche last month to replace Juergen Schrempp, who shocked markets with news that he would leave at year's end.

DaimlerChrysler shares hardly reacted to the news. The stock was down 0.3 percent at 40.71 euros at 1355 GMT, while the DJ Stoxx European car sector index was off 0.2 percent.

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