BMW to hire Audi's Mackensen to lead Mini sales, report says

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FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- BMW hired Sebastian Mackensen, an Audi manager overseeing sales in North and South America, to help shore up the Mini brand, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Mackensen will lead sales at Mini and report to Jochen Goller, who will take charge of BMW's compact-car brand in October, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the hiring has not yet been announced.

Mathias Schmidt, a spokesman for BMW, said the company doesn't comment on "personnel speculation."

"Mr. Mackensen left the company at his own request," said Moritz Drechsel, a spokesman for Audi.

Martin Sander, currently head of Audi in the United Kingdom, will replace Mackensen, he said.

Mackensen is the latest senior manager poached by BMW as the manufacturers vie for the global lead in luxury-car sales.

The BMW brand has delivered 1.05 million cars worldwide this year, just 21,100 more than Audi.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's former sales chief, joined BMW's management board in April.

At least six senior managers have left the carmaker in the wake of a management revamp initiated by parent Volkswagen.

BMW lead

"The personnel changes might be an expression of a certain amount of dissatisfaction and unease at Audi," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. "This is caused by the increasingly stiff technological competition in the luxury segment, where BMW at the moment is scoring all the points against Audi."

Profit from Audi, VW's biggest earnings contributor, is critical to the German automaker's goal of overtaking Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors to become the world's largest automaker by 2018.

As part of the plan, Audi aims to surpass BMW in sales by the end of the decade. VW in June appointed Ulrich Hackenberg to oversee development at Audi, taking over for Wolfgang Duerheimer, who was in the job less than a year.

The 55-year-old former Porsche developer took charge of creating new Audi models on Sept. 1 last year.

Duerheimer's appointment was part of a management shakeup at Audi in 2012.

In addition to Duerheimer's appointment, Bernd Martens and Luca De Meo moved from the VW brand to head purchasing and sales, respectively.

Schwarzenbauer decided to leave rather than take another job in the Volkswagen group. He is now at BMW overseeing sales and marketing for BMW motorcycles, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars and parts and service for the entire group.

Audi's former board member for purchasing Ulf Berkenhagen moved to VW's truck unit MAN in 2012. Audi's former U.S. chief Johan de Nysschen left to take the wheel at Nissan Motor's upscale Infiniti brand last year.

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