GO
Loading...

CNBC's LeBeau: VW Chief's Exit Spurs Talk Of Return to Chrysler

The head of Volkswagen's VW brand, Wolfgang Bernhard, is leaving the company at the end of the month, fueling speculation that he may return to DaimlerChrysler and possible replace Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda, according to CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

LeBeau said there will be speculation in Detroit and on Wall Street that DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche may bring Bernhard back to the company to replace LaSorda.

LaSorda is in the midst of finalizing a turnaround plan for Chrysler that he will present to the Daimler board by the end of February, LeBeau said.

In a live interview on Squawk Box on Monday, LaSorda acknowledged he's on the hot seat. But he also told LeBeau that he believes he will remain in charge at Chrysler to see through this restructuring and that he has the cofidence of Zetsche. Zetsche himself has made remarks in recent weeks that he has confidence in LaSorda.

However, Wall Street will focus on the fact that Bernhard was Zetsche's right hand man in the Chrysler turnaround six years ago, LeBeau said. The two worked very well together, and if Zetsche wanted to replace LaSorda, he'd be able to bring in a CEO who knows Chrysler intimately, and is not afraid to make the tough cuts Chrysler needs.

One other possibility, LeBeau said, is Zetsche bringing Bernhard back to run Mercedes. Bernhard was scheduled to take over the luxury unit when a boardroom fight with former chairman Juergen Schremp lead to Bernhard getting booted. Zetsche has run, and continues to run Mercedes while also overseeing all of DaimlerChrysler. He may want to give up doing that job, and Bernhard would be a smart choice given his histrory with Mercedes, LeBeau said.

Chrysler PR executives have stressed--and continue to stress--that LaSorda has the full confidence of Dieter Zetsche and has no plans to go anywhere, LeBeau said.

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
DAI
---
VOW3
---

Featured

Contact U.S. News

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More

Don't Miss

U.S. Video

  • NBC News' Martin Fletcher reports on the back and forth blame of who shot airstrikes which fell short of their targets and hit a children's park, as well as a main hospital compound in Gaza.

  • The "Earnings Squad" discuss the expectations for earnings from Aetna, UPS, TRW Automotive, and Wynn Resorts, with CNBC's Brian Sullivan, Melissa Lee, Bertha Coombs and FMHR trader Stephanie Link.

  • From jobs data to the Fed announcement, what's most important for investors? Jack Ablin, BMO Private Bank EVP & CIO, and Matthew McCormick, Bahl & Gaynor principal, provide perspective.