LONDON (CNNfn) - DaimlerChrysler is gearing up for a purge of its top management ranks that could see the departure of the head of its U.S. car subsidiary, intensifying a widening rift between the company's German and American operations, according to a published report.
The carmaker, created late last year through the merger of Germany's Daimler-Benz and America's Chrysler Corp., may announce a reshuffle as early as Friday that could definitively tip the balance of power on the company's slimmed-down board in favor of chief executive Juergen Schrempp and his allies, the Wall Street Journal reported.
DaimlerChrylser (FDCX) announced last month plans to streamline its board from the current 17 members to around 10 to 13 as part of a broad corporate integration in the wake of the merger.
The biggest casualty of the reshuffle, the newspaper said, could be Thomas Stallkamp, the president of the carmaker's U.S. car arm and a key architect behind Chrysler's rebound from the brink of bankruptcy in the early 1990s.
The Journal said DaimlerChrysler's top leadership convened Tuesday in New York against the backdrop of an intensifying power struggle between Stallkamp, an advocate of a go-slow approach to integration, and Schrempp, who favors a faster fusion.
Rumors about a high-level restructuring have been swirling around the carmaker since last week's Frankfurt car show. Daimler's senior management team is already in a state of flux, following the abrupt resignation of Lars Brorsen, head of its struggling Micro Compact Car unit during the show. A permanent replacement for him has not yet been found.
DaimlerChrysler has fanned the speculation by refusing to clarify the reports. Instead, the carmaker has issued a vague statement that it doesn't comment on "rumors" while pointing to earlier warnings by Schrempp's about the need for managerial evolution, the newspaper said.
The Journal said Manfred Gentz, DaimlerChrysler's chief financial officer, also faces an uncertain fate, though German media have reported Gentz is likely to retain his post in any reshuffle.
Stallkamp has come to be seen as the chief guarantor of the carmaker's U.S. interests. But that role has also reportedly earned him enemies in the carmaker's transatlantic management, some of whom see him as an impediment to quick and efficient integration.
Under the reshuffle, James Holden will be appointed the new board member for sales and marketing while Dieter Zetsche will take on the portfolio of truck boss currently held by Kurt Lauk, the Journal reported.
Daimler shares were off 1 percent at 67.10 euros in Frankfurt Wednesday.