Helmut Werner

Since taking the wheel in 1993 at Mercedes-Benz, CEO HELMUT WERNER, 60, has changed it from a ponderous, money-losing maker of overpriced cars to a nimble purveyor of sexy, sold-out models. The ex-tire salesman has slashed costs and pushed into new markets, such as small cars and sport-utility vehicles. His biggest threat now: losing a power struggle with parent Daimler Benz, which wants more control.

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