Rolls-Royce chief steps down

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BMW, the German luxury carmaker, said on Monday that the chairman and chief executive of its Rolls-Royce marque had resigned with immediate effect less than six months after taking up the post.

Munich-based BMW said the decision by Karl-Heinz Kalbfell to leave the iconic British carmaker was a personal one to pursue a career outside of the company.

The departure of Mr Kalbfell follows that of his predecessor Tony Gott, who unexpectedly resigned in May after some company executives suggested relations between Mr Gott and Helmut Panke, BMW chairman, had deteriorated.

BMW said the search to replace Mr Kalbfell had already begun and added Stefan Krause, finance director, would stand in for the outgoing chaiman and chief executive until a replacement was found.

BMW bought the rights to the British carmaker from Rolls-Royce Aerospace in 2002 for £40m but had a difficult relationship with Mr Gott, who had worked for both Rolls Royce and rival Bentley for more than 20 years.

Under German ownership, Rolls-Royce, based in the Earl of March’s Goodwood estate in West Sussex, planned to increase production from 300 in 2003 to 750 this year and an eventual target of 1,000 units a year.

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