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Daimler’s Zetsche on a Tightrope

Daimler's CEO is struggling to keep momentum going.

by on Apr.13, 2010

A number of recent moves by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche have come under fire.

Ever since he moved back to Stuttgart, after a 2005 tour of duty as Chrysler’s chief executive, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has been dogged by the lingering controversies left behind by his predecessor, Juergen Schrempp. In addition, Zetsche has been challenged by a series of new issues that have left the company poorer and its strategic direction open to challenge.

Zetsche was supposed to offer stability and tranquility after Schrempp’s stormy reign as CEO – which ended in an angry annual meeting, in Berlin, during the spring of 2005, when shareholders went after Schrempp with the kind of zest the Red Baron’s Flying Circus used to reserve for chasing down British aircraft in World War I air battles.  Schrempp’s few defenders in the hall were left pleading for civility.

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By comparison, Zetsche’s tenure has been reasonably tranquil, though he has nonetheless been left balancing precariously on the high-wire without much of safety net.