JLR set to get new chief as Speth’s term ends in September

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MUMBAI/CHENNAI: Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is set to get a new face at the helm as a search committee has begun paring the list of potential candidates. Both insiders as well as outsiders are in the run for the top post and a decision on who will lead the company will be made soon.
The company had earlier planned to extend current CEO Ralf Speth’s tenure by a year. But that has been shelved and the search committee has started considering other candidates. Recruitment specialist Egon Zehnder has been assisting JLR in identifying replacement candidates for Speth. His term ends in September when he turns 65 — the retirement age for executive directors. He will be subsequently re-designated as a non-executive VC of the company.
JLR’s engineering head Nick Rogers and woman independent director Hanne Brigitte Sorenson are in the reckoning. So are Audi’s former CEO Bram Schot and current production head Fred Schulze. Ex-BMW honcho Klaus Froehlich is also being considered, according to the Financial Times. There’s speculation that Tata Motors’ CEO Guenter Butschek is also being evaluated for the role. Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley is, however, out of the race.
Whoever steps into Speth’s shoes has a challenging task to steer JLR out of the woods. The company reported losses (a pre-tax of 400 million pounds) for fiscal 2020. JLR was showing turnaround signs late last year from the impact of a slowdown in China and Brexit, but the pandemic affected its business in the fourth quarter, which generally is a strong quarter for the automotive industry. The success of JLR is key for the Tata Group, which purchased the British automotive maker for $2.3 billion in 2008.
Going by the recent CEO appointments at various Tata companies, chances are high that group chairman N Chandrasekaran may prefer an external candidate for JLR. However, there could also be an exception, said a person close to the command centre.

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