Aston Martin poaches Bentley’s CEO

The CEO merry-go-round at Aston Martin continues with the company appointing its fourth boss in as many years.

At the end of last week Aston Martin told press and investors Adrian Hallmark is leaving Bentley, and will start as its CEO “no later than 1st October 2024”, indicating there might be period of gardening leave that Aston Martin is hoping to negotiate down.

Mr Hallmark will take over from Amedeo Felisa, who has agreed to remain in place until the new CEO joins the firm in order to ensure a “smooth transition”.

Mr Felisa, who was CEO of Ferrari between 2008 and 2016, was appointed as chief of Aston Martin in May 2022.

Lawrence Stroll, the Canadian billionaire who is a major stakeholder in Aston Martin and its executive chairman, said Mr Felisa was tasked with “leading a new phase of growth and development”.

He claims Mr Felisa has achieved those goals because “two years on, we have delivered on that promise, as we near completion of our thrilling new product portfolio and move closer to our vision of becoming the world’s most desirable, ultra-luxury British performance brand”.

Since leading a consortium to take control of Aston Martin in 2020, Mr Stroll has overseen the departure of Andy Palmer, CEO between 2014 and 2020, and then his replacement Tobias Moers (2020 to 2022), who previously headed up AMG, the performance division of Mercedes-Benz.

In a separate statement Bentley confirmed Mr Hallmark’s immediate departure as its CEO.

Gernot Döllner, chairman of Audi, Bentley’s parent company in the Volkswagen conglomerate, thanked Mr Hallmark for putting Bentley “on the path to carbon-neutral electric vehicles in the luxury segment”, as well as taking “important steps towards the long-term success of the company”.

Mr Hallmark has degrees in mechanical engineering and management, and has been a senior executive at a variety of European automakers for the past quarter century, including two stints at Bentley.

His previous roles include managing director of Porsche Great Britain (1996-1999), head of sales and marketing at Bentley (1999-2005), and senior roles at Volkswagen of America and then Volkswagen Asia (2005-2009).

After Dutch supercar maker Spyker bought Saab from GM, he spent 2010 as Saab’s head of global sales. Before Saab and Spyker both hit the bankruptcy wall at the beginning of 2011, Mr Hallmark jumped ship to Jaguar Land Rover, where he was first head of the Jaguar brand, and then the automaker’s head of strategy.

In 2018, he was hired to become Bentley’s CEO. During his time at the helm, he oversaw the launch of the Porsche Panamera-based Bentley Continental two-door range, as well as the Flying Spur sedan.

He was also in charge when the brand announced it would go fully electric by 2030, with its first electric vehicle (EV) launching in 2025.

This month, Bentley pushed out its EV timeline. Now it says it will go pure electric by 2033, with the first EV launching a year later than initially projected, and subsequent EVs also delayed.

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