Daimler, Ericsson PR Chiefs to Launch New Firm
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Daimler, Ericsson PR Chiefs to Launch New Firm

Christoph Walther, communications chief at DaimlerChrysler, is leaving to launch his own corporate public relations firm in partnership with former colleague Roland Klein, who left Daimler last year to become head of corporate affairs at Ericsson.

Paul Holmes

LONDON, Novembver 6—Christoph Walther, controversial communications chief at DaimlerChrysler, is leaving the German automotive giant to launch his own corporate public relations firm in partnership with former colleague Roland Klein, who left DaimlerChrysler last year to become head of corporate affairs at Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson.
 
Walther and Klein were key figures in the 1998 merger of Daimler Benz and Chrylser, during which they clashed repeatedly with their U.S. counterparts over communications philosophy. In the book Taken for a Ride, authors Bill Vlasic and Bradley Stertz portray the European due as more controlling and less creative than the PR team at Chrysler.
 
Walther is a former lawyer who joined Daimler from the tobacco industry, while Klein was a financial journalist.
 
The Financial Times noted that Klein’s departure from Ericsson comes just 11 days after a controversial leak of Ericsson’s third quarter figures to the Reuters news agency, which forced the company to announce its results a day early. An investigation into the leak has yet to identify the source, but Klein said his departure was planned before the leak occurred.
 
Ericsson has experienced other difficulties over the past 12 months, with huge losses in its mobile handset businesses and a major corporate restructuring that will eventually cut the number of employees at the company by 22,000 to around 85,000.
 
Walther has also overseen a sweeping restructuring at DaimlerChrysler, where 26,000 jobs were lost at the company’s Chrysler subsidiary. He also handled communications strategy behind the overhaul of the company’s Freightliner trucks business in the US and its Mitsubishi Motors partner in Japan.
 
DaimlerChrysler is expected to be a client of the new firm, which will unveil its name—and possibly other partners—at the end of the year. The new firm will have offices in Munich and London.
 
The automaker said Hartmut Schick, now vice president and chief of staff for chairman Juergen Schrempp, will replace Walther January 1, 2002. Ericsson hasn't yet named a successor to Klein.
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