* CFO Rosenfeld takes helm immediately
* Schaeffler “now free to readjust future course” -chairman
* Schaeffler saddled with about 9 bln euros debt
* Departing CEO engineered takeover of Continental (Adds further details, background)
BERLIN, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Heavily indebted German auto parts maker Schaeffler named finance chief Klaus Rosenfeld as its new interim chief executive on Friday to replace Juergen Geissinger, who has quit.
Rosenfeld will take the helm at the ball bearings and clutch maker with immediate effect, the company said on Friday, citing a decision of its supervisory board.
Geissinger, who engineered the leveraged takeover swoop for three-times larger rival Continental AG in 2008, became chief executive in 1998. His contract was due to expire in late 2014 but the company said on Friday he was leaving with immediate effect.
“Through today’s change in leadership Schaeffler group is now free to readjust its course for the future,” Schaeffler’s owner and chairman Georg Schaeffler said in a statement.
“We will continue our growth course with the necessary investments,” he said.
Geissinger effectively doubled Schaeffler’s size by acquiring listed bearing maker FAG Kugelfischer in 2001. Seven years later the company built a virtual stake of 36 percent in Continental via cash-settled call options and then launched a takeover offer for the car parts maker.
Last month, Schaeffler sold a 3.9 percent stake in Continental for about 950 million euros ($1.3 billion) to pay down debt in a move that trimmed its holding in the auto parts and tyre maker to 46 percent.
Schaeffler remains saddled with about 9 billion euros of debt. ($1=0.7340 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Greg Mahlich)