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Steven Althaus (Photo: BMW)

BMW has hired Steven Althaus to oversee its brand management and marketing services.

Althaus, 44, will assume his new position at the German premium car maker in January.

Althaus was mostly recently chairman and CEO of the German and Austrian operations of Publicis. He joined the communications agency in the summer of 2010 and is leaving following the takeover by France-based Publicis of Pixelpark, Germany's largest digital communications group.

Germany's Werben & Verkaufen, which covers the advertising industry, speculated in October that Althaus was leaving because a streamlining of the management ranks was in order following the merger of the two companies. The news magazine also noted that Althaus, who before joining Publicis headed global brand management at insurance group Allianz, has in the course of his career switched between companies and agencies at regular intervals.

At BMW, Althaus will report to the car maker's head of sales and marketing, Ian Robertson.