BERLIN (Feb. 10, 2004) — Helmut Werner, the former chairman of Continental A.G. and Mercedes-Benz A.G. who oversaw the 1987 acquisition of GenCorp Inc.'s General Tire subsidiary, died Feb. 6 in Berlin at age 67.&Copy;
Mr. Werner served as chairman of Continental from 1982-87, during which time he oversaw the company's drive for a more international presence, including the 1987 acquisition of General Tire.
The acquisition vaulted Conti at that time into the No. 4 slot in global tire sales, just ahead of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Prior to the deal, Conti primarily survived on its original equipment ties with what was then West German auto makers.
Mr. Werner came to Conti in 1979 when the company — then known as Continental Gummi-Werke A.G. — bought Uniroyal Inc.'s European operations. At that time, he served as Continental's European managing director for marketing, manufacturing and development. He was promoted to chairman in 1982.
Before leading the way to buy General Tire, Mr. Werner also oversaw Continental's purchase of Austria's Semperit Reifen GmbH in 1985.
Right after the General deal, several suitors courted Mr. Werner for top executive posts, including Volkswagen A.G. and Daimler-Benz A.G.
He left Continental after an eight-year reign as its chairman to take an executive post at German auto maker Daimler-Benz, effective Jan. 1, 1988. Mr. Werner initially headed the vehicle maker's Commercial Vehicle Division, preparing him for an eventual move to the top executive post at the firm.
Mr. Werner left Daimler in January 1997 after losing a boardroom battle with Juergen Schrempp, now CEO of DaimlerChrysler A.G. After leaving Mercedes, Mr. Werner headed the supervisory board of Expo 2000, a major exposition in Hannover, Germany. He also sat on several company boards, including IBM Deutschland GmbH and BASF A.G.