* Martin Daum to take over as trucks chief from March 1
* Has run U.S. trucks division since 2009
* Works council welcomes appointment (Adds comment from works council chief)
BERLIN, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Daimler has picked the head of its North American trucks division to run group-wide truck operations, it said on Monday, avoiding a lengthy search for a successor to departed chief Wolfgang Bernhard.
Bernhard, 56, once seen as a candidate to succeed Daimler Chief Executive Diete Zetsche, stepped down a year before his contract was due to expire, the carmaker said this month.
Martin Daum, 57, president and chief executive of Daimler’s trucks business in North America, was appointed by the company’s supervisory board to top management effective on March 1 for a five-year period, Daimler said.
Daum has run Daimler’s heavy-duty vehicle business in North America since 2009, having previously held a top management post at the company’s European trucks division with responsibility for Daimler’s huge trucks plant in Woerth, Germany.
“We are convinced that he will successfully meet the upcoming challenges in the next years,” Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff said in an emailed statement.
Stuttgart-based Daimler’s announcement confirms a Reuters story published earlier on Monday saying that the succession void left by Bernhard’s departure would be resolved soon.
Bernhard’s restructuring efforts have angered powerful labour leaders, who impeded his progress at Daimler until he was too old to be considered for the top job, sources familiar with the matter have said.
In contrast the works council, whose members occupy half the seats on Daimler’s 20-strong supervisory board, welcomed the appointment of Daum.
“He is collaborative,” Daimler’s labour boss, Michael Brecht, said by email, adding that he hoped for constructive talks as the company continues to look for cost savings. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Ilona Wissenbach.; Editing by David Goodman, Greg Mahlich)