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Audi promotes finance chief Rupert Stadler to be new CEO in new year

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Audi AG, the luxury automaker owned by Volkswagen AG, said Wednesday that Chief Financial Officer Rupert Stadler will take over as its chief executive on Jan. 1.

Stadler will replace Martin Winterkorn, who last month was named chief executive of Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen after the announcement that Bernd Pischetsrieder would step down. Audi said Stadler would continue as its CFO.

The changes come as VW is cutting up to 20,000 jobs, instituting longer working hours at its German plants and trimming costs _ a difficult program that Pischetsrieder instituted in a bid to compete with Asian automakers and to try and snare a large piece of the U.S. market.

Pischetsrieder will remain VW CEO until the end of the year. Ingolstadt-based Audi's supervisory board said that Winterkorn would become its chairman as well.

Audi's labour group signalled their approval of Stadler's promotion.

``Mr. Stadler stands for the continuity of the successful course of the Audi brand,'' labour representative Peter Mooch said in an e-mailed statement.

While Stadler was officially nominated as interim CEO, Audi said the approval from its board needed to make it permanent was a formality.

Stadler joined Audi in 1990, working his way up through the company's sales and marketing units before moving to Volkswagen in 1997, working in Wolfsburg and in Spain. He returned to Audi in 2003 to become CFO.

Winterkorn is expected to reorganize VW's various automotive units, by forming a premium group made up of its Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini brands and a so-called volume group made up of Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT.

Currently, VW groups its brands into two units: the VW group, which is made up of Volkswagen, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti; and the Audi group, made up of Audi, SEAT and Lamborghini.

Shares of Audi were unchanged at 465.50 euros (US$617.90) in Frankfurt trading while shares of Volkswagen dipped more than half a per cent to 81.44 euros ($108.10).

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Audi promotes finance chief Rupert Stadler to be new CEO in new year
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