Sturm und Drang Likely at DC Annual Meeting

March 18, 2007
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You can imagine the subtle joys of a DaimlerChrysler annual meeting—stale air, staler coffee, lots of Dieters. But curiously, since the arrival of Chrysler on the scene, DC annual meetings have acquired a sort of Taiwanese parliament flavor, only with countermotions and accusations being tossed around, not random punches and folding chairs. They are German and therefore somewhat restrained.

Next week’s meeting promises to be just as combative as those under former CEO Juergen Schrempp. Current CEO Dieter Zetsche can expect to be accused of lots of borderline criminal acts—duping shareholders, saving Chrysler to the detriment of Mercedes-Benz. (If someone could prove wiretapping, the New York Times would get all confused and name Karl Rove as a chief accomplice.)

But one motion could trouble CEO Dieter for a while – to pull the plug on Maybach . Germans being logical creatures, Chrysler seems like a natural piece to chainsaw off the company. Why shouldn't Maybach, a big money-loser in an hysteric global-warming era, be next? And with Maybach on the table, with its billion-dollar losses, smart can’t be far behind.

The motions won’t succeed—but the undercurrent should be painfully clear. Big shareholders and small ones alike liked Mercedes-Benz when it was Benz alone. And this time, there are more of the disgruntled, waiting for a turn at the mike.


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