Fred Musone, Autoliv Inc.'s chief operating officer, has resigned.
The departure of the No. 2 executive followed the merger of two airbag industry giants.
Autoliv Inc., the world's largest producer of automotive safety systems, was created last October by the merger of Autoliv AB of Sweden and Morton International Inc. of Chicago.
Autoliv Inc. said in a statement that it had not found a successor to Musone, who was president of Morton Automotive before the merger.
Musone could not be reached for comment.
Industry sources say Musone was discouraged when Autoliv's board denied him the CEO position he had originally been promised.
Instead, the company gave Gunnar Bark the job, relegating Musone to second in command.
'You've got two very strong guys in charge of Autoliv and Morton,' said one senior executive at a rival company. 'Maybe there wasn't room for the two of them.'
Bark said Autoliv's board decided it needed a European insider to run the company.
About 55 percent of Autoliv's sales are concentrated in Europe, Bark noted.
'Europe is a much more complicated market, with many countries, languages and producers,' Bark said.
'It is very difficult to come to Europe if you are not an insider,' he said.
As the larger partner in the merger - with 53.5 percent of the new company's equity - Autoliv controlled the selection of the new company's top executives.
Despite the management shuffle, Autoliv's reorganization will proceed quickly, Bark said.
Morton has spun off its salt and specialty chemicals business, and Autoliv has set up its new world headquarters in London.
European operations are based in Stockholm and the US headquarters is in Ogden, Utah.
The company employs 15,000 people worldwide, with annual sales of $3.2 billion.