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BMW China Head Stark to Retire After 15-Fold Increase in Sales

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the world’s largest luxury carmaker, said Christoph Stark will retire as China head in February after overseeing BMW sales jump about 15-fold over eight years in the country.

Karsten Engel, currently the senior vice president of BMW Group Germany, will take over the China portfolio from March 1, Munich-based BMW said in an e-mailed statement today.

Engel will face the challenge of building on Stark’s progress in helping BMW close in on the lead held by Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi in the world’s biggest car market. BMW is on pace to sell more than 300,000 vehicles in China this year. It sold more than 232,000 vehicles in 2011, up from about 16,000 units when Stark took over in 2004.

“The prospects for the premium segment in China still look promising, although growth is expected to be a little slower,” Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW’s board of management, said in a statement. “Our commitment to China remains strong and is assured.”

Engel, 54, has worked for the BMW Group for more than 25 years in different functions and regions, according to the statement. He oversees sales and marketing in his current role in the group’s home market.

Roland Kruger, 47, currently the head of BMW Group’s Japanese sales company, will head the Germany sales region from March, according to a separate statement.

BMW follows the growing number of foreign automakers announcing leadership changes in China in 2012. Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, General Motors Co. (GM) and Volkswagen changed their China heads this year.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Tian Ying in Beijing at ytian@bloomberg.net; Alexandra Ho in Shanghai at aho113@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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