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Head of Mercedes Unit Plans to Leave Daimler

From Associated Press

DaimlerChrysler said Thursday that the head of its Mercedes Car Group unit, who was passed over for promotion to the chief executive’s job, would leave the automaker at the end of this month.

Mercedes boss Eckhard Cordes “will leave the company at his own request on Aug. 31, 2005, after 29 years of service,” a brief company statement said.

The German-U.S. automaker said Chrysler chief Dieter Zetsche, who is set to take over as chief executive of DaimlerChrysler when Jurgen Schrempp departs at the end of this year, would take charge of Mercedes starting Sept. 1.

The company did not elaborate on the reasons for the departure of Cordes, who was once considered a leading contender to succeed Schrempp.

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However, last month’s announcement that Schrempp would leave and be replaced by Zetsche triggered a spate of German media reports that Cordes had offered to resign.

Cordes, 54, helped Schrempp plan Daimler-Benz’s 1998 merger with Chrysler Corp. He then revived DaimlerChrysler’s commercial-vehicle division before taking over Mercedes last year.

Mercedes, once DaimlerChrysler’s star performer, has been plagued by quality issues, including a recall of 1.3 million vehicles in April.

U.S. shares of DaimlerChrysler fell 41 cents to $49.76.

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