BMW CEO Harald Krüger to step down

The luxury automaker's chief has decided to leave rather than, as reports suggest, be pushed.
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Harald Krüger has announced he won't be seeking a second term as the CEO of BMW.

"I would like to pursue new professional endeavours and leverage my diverse international experience for new projects and ventures," Krüger said in a statement released late last week.

Earlier reports suggested growing dissatisfaction with Krüger's performance at the highest levels of the company, with the BMW supervisory board to consider whether to offer a Krüger an extension to his contract, which is due to expire in 2020, at its next meeting.

Instead, the next board meeting, which take place on July 18, will discuss who to appoint as his successor.

Krüger began his tenure as CEO in 2015 when he replaced Norbert Reithofer, who remained on the BMW's board as its chairman. When he took the top job Krüger was just 48, making him the youngest ever CEO of a large automaker.

His tenure got off to a bad start when, at his first major outing as CEO, Krüger collapsed on stage during a press conference at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show.

In 2016 BMW lost its crown as the global luxury car sales leader to arch rival Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to slowing demand in China and other major markets, as well as trade tensions between the US, and Europe and China, profits have taken a hit.

Sources have told Frankfurter Allgemeine Oliver Zipse, the automaker's head of production, is frontrunner to be appointed Krüger's replacement.

“Over the last quarter century, Harald Krüger has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the BMW Group in all of the various positions he has held.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude for his great personal commitment. I have complete respect and understanding for his decision and for his further plans,” chairman Reithofer said in a prepared statement.