HANOVER, Germany (Sept. 12)—In a surprise move, Stephan Kessel has relinquished his post as chairman of Continental A.G., citing "differences concerning the strategic orientation of the corporation," according to a Continental statement. Conti's board named Manfred Wennemer, 53, previously head of the ContiTech non-tire products group, to replace Kessel. Since Kessel's appointment as chairman two years ago, Continental has continued to shift its focus—from its traditional tire and rubber goods business—into automotive systems supply, concentrating on chassis management, including brakes, electronics and suspension systems as well as tires. Wolfgang Ziebart, the executive board member in charge of Continental's automotive systems division, was named deputy chairman. Wennemer has been with Conti since 1994, and head of ContiTech since May 1998.