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Daimler Scouring Mercedes for Savings as Forced Firings Excluded

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March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG, the world’s third-largest maker of luxury vehicles, will avoid forced job cuts as it cut costs at Mercedes-Benz to push its goal of overtaking Bayerische Motoren Werke AG in sales and profit.

“We’re looking everywhere to increase efficiency at Mercedes-Benz Cars,” spokesman Florian Martens said today by phone. The savings won’t involve firings, which are excluded until the end of 2016 under an agreement with unions, he said.

Daimler is under pressure to boost sales and profit at Mercedes as the maker of the S-Class luxury sedan falls behind BMW and Volkswagen AG’s Audi. The Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer last year postponed a Mercedes profit target to 2014 at the earliest, four years later than originally planned.

To revive profits, Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche initiated a savings program dubbed Fit for Leadership to trim 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) from spending by the end of 2014.

“A reduction in workforce would be possible only on the basis of voluntary agreements,” Martens said. “No decisions on personnel measure have been taken.”

Daimler was responding to a report by Manager Magazin today that said Mercedes plans to eliminate more than 1,000 non-production jobs in sales, human resources and finance departments.

Zetsche’s contract last month was extended by three years, shorter than a planned five-year extension after investment funds voiced concerns.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dorothee Tschampa in Frankfurt at dtschampa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net