22.01.2010 HARALD J WESTER APPOINTED CEO OF ALFA ROMEO

HARALD J WESTER - ALFA ROMEO CEO

Harald J Wester (in his position as Abarth CEO seen at last year's Geneva Motor Show, top) has been appointed to ther position of CEO of Alfa Romeo this morning; amongst his early duties will be overseeing the launch of the important new C-segment Giulietta (bottom).

Fiat Group confirmed this morning that its Chief Technical Officer Harald J Wester will become the new CEO of the Alfa Romeo division, replacing Sergio Cravero, with the intent of combining this new role with his currently held responsibilities for the niche Maserati and Abarth brands. It means the revolving door of Alfa Romeo bosses continues unabated as Cravero has been replaced in the top job after just a year in charge but the Italian is given a vague title of holding responsibility for "Portfolio Planning & Product Concept" in the new entity, similar to a previous position that he held.

This latest reorganisation of Alfa Romeo's positioning within the Fiat Group Automobiles brand portfolio brings Alfa Romeo back to a very short-lived tie-up with the Modenese sports car maker which was also initiated by Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne in early 2005. It also comes as Marchionne continues to develop a new business plan for the Fiat brands which will follow on in tandem from the five-year plan he outlined for Chrysler last November. This latest plan is expected to be finalised and put into action by mid-April.

"Harald J. Wester has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Alfa Romeo Automobiles, replacing Sergio Cravero, who will assume responsibility for Product Portfolio Planning & Product Concept," read a statement issued in Turin this morning which added that: "Mr. Wester will maintain his current positions as Chief Technical Officer for Fiat Group and Fiat Group Automobiles and Chief Executive Officer of Maserati and Abarth."

Cravero was appointed Alfa Romeo CEO in the middle of last January when the incumbent Luca De Meo left Fiat Group to take up a senior marketing position at VW Group. Cravero, who at the time was the marketing chief of Alfa Romeo, was also made "responsible for coordinating product development of individual models and determining product initiatives for the Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands." Meanwhile at the same time Wester took over as Abarth CEO, another of the positions that De Meo vacated when he left the Fiat Group, adding this role with the Scorpion to the position of Maserati CEO that he had assumed from the departing Roberto Ronchi the previous summer. For Alfisti the appointment of Wester raises many questions about Alfa Romeo's direction, not least being that he is one of the busiest figures with the Group and unlikely to have much time to devote to Alfa Romeo's future.

"The purpose of bringing the Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Abarth brands under the same leadership is to emphasise and leverage the value of the shared qualities of the three brands in terms of their sporting characteristics and performance," commented Marchionne in a written statement this morning. "Harald Wester, who has demonstrated his enormous commitment on several fronts and achieved optimum results, will bring strong leadership capabilities and solid technical experience and know-how to this project. In his new role, Sergio Cravero will be well positioned to fully leverage his technical and commercial abilities."
 

2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed