Bloomberg News

Mercedes Cancels Dealer Meeting After Firing U.S. Chief

October 19, 2011

(Updates with attendance figures in third paragraph.)

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG, the world’s third- largest maker of luxury cars, canceled a gathering of Mercedes- Benz dealers in Chicago this week after firing its U.S. chief.

Daimler yesterday dismissed Ernst Lieb as head of Mercedes’ U.S. operations, assigning a temporary replacement to oversee its second-largest market. Lieb, 56, a 36-year Daimler veteran, took charge of Mercedes sales and marketing in the U.S. in September 2006 and would have run the dealers’ event.

U.S. sales partners for the luxury-car brand were notified Oct. 14 that the meeting planned for yesterday and today would be postponed indefinitely, Donna Boland, a Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman in Montvale, New Jersey, said today by e-mail. The meeting, due to be attended by 93 percent of the brand’s 355 U.S. dealers, was called off because Lieb wasn’t going to be able to attend, she said.

Mercedes is on track this year to overtake Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus in the country for the first time in more than decade. Lieb’s departure was unrelated to operational issues, a person familiar with the situation said.

“We usually have one or two such meetings a year to update dealers on the business of the company,” Boland said. “This one is in the process of being rescheduled.”

Daimler dismissed Lieb because he repeatedly charged the company for private expenses, breaching internal rules, Handelsblatt reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

Lieb billed the company for expenses such as house remodeling and golf club fees even though he had been previously warned against the practice, the German newspaper said.

Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler declined to comment on the grounds for Lieb’s departure and wouldn’t provide a contact for the executive.

--Editors: Chad Thomas, Heather Harris

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Reiter in Berlin at creiter2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net


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