Daimlerchryslers Stockholders Want Chrysler Out for Good

by : Dwyane Thomas



DaimlerChrysler AG's annual general meetings have always been a stormy event in recent years with stockholders hammering out at the transatlantic car giant's management over the group's declining share price plus the failure of its ambitious global expansion to produce positive results.

And now after nine years of spending money into the troubled Chrysler operations, what the company's shareholders and investors would like to know from DaimlerChrysler's Chief Dieter Zetsche are his plans for the next stage of rolling back the group's international empire specifically the disposal of the loss-making US arm---Chrysler AG.

Discarding Chrysler AG would take DaimlerChrysler back to the year 1998 when its former chief Juergen Schrempp introduce his vision to covert the Stuttgart-based company and maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars and auto components such as ----into a Welt AG or World Inc.

It was also Schrempp that spearheaded the union between Germany's Daimler and US-based Chrysler which the former chief hailed as a "marriage made in heaven'". But just like any marriage that doesn't "work" the union of Daimler and Chrysler has to end. Since staying married to each other would only cause both parties more damage than good.

It should be noted that starting last February the company's share price has recovered after DaimlerChrysler Chief Zetsche has announced that all options were on the table for its US-based arm. According to Unio Investment funds manager Ingo Speich in an interview with the German business daily Handelsblatt, "Splitting off Chrysler appears to us as appropriate." This statement made by Speich reflects the views of other fund management groups attending Wednesday's AGM.

Last February Zetsche also unveiled another plan to revamp Chrysler including cutting 13,000 jobs after fierce competition in the US resulted in the American carmaker to obtain an astounding 1.92 million euros (2.6 billion USD) loss last 2006. There are already couples of equity firms and carmakers that are looking at the possibility of taking over Chrysler and one of which is General Motors Corp which have been sizing up Daimler's loss-making US arm. The news of a possible buyout from GM has helped increase the shares of DaimlerChrysler to more than 30 percent obtaining 1.3 million for the DCX stockholders.

In fairness to DaimlerChrysler it has exert all efforts as well as resources in trying to turnaround Chrysler to the extent that it has unintentionally neglected the company's flagship Mercedes Benz cars which were suddenly bombarded with complaints about deteriorating quality and mounting losses.

It would have been easier for Mercedes Benz to address such problems if only its arch rival BMW has not emerged as the world's premium car brand. The disposal of Chrysler would once and for all help ease the pressure on DaimlerChrysler. Chrysler on its part is continuing to struggle to deal with its loss-making Smart minicars which unfortunately form part of the Mercedes Benz Group.

Actually the first time that Daimler pulled an alliance with Chrysler, analysts were forecasting a bleak future which they based on the previously failed partnership between Daimler and Mitsubishi Motors Corp especially when the German automaker refused to help its debt-ridden Japanese auto group.

The tie-up with Mitsubishi formed a key pillar of Schrempp's vision to build a global empire with operations across Daimler's home base in Europe expanding to the world's biggest car market in the US up to Asia's fast-paced economy.

The countdown for the disposal of the Chrysler AG has increased the stock of DaimlerChrysler's by 1.4 percent to 62.26 euros in a trading conducted last Monday following media reports that the carmaker has been able to acquire bids totaling to 9.0 billion dollars.

Last month US investment house Morgan Stanley has increase its price estimate for DaimlerChrysler shares by more than 20 percent to 75 euros on the grounds that basis that the group manages to split off Chrysler. According to the report written by Adam Jonas, an analyst from Morgan Stanley to clients, "We are prepared to value it under the assumption that it extricates itself from Chrysler."

Similarly most analysts also share the same opinion that DaimlerChrysler would not sustained rebound in its share price if it will not dump Chrysler. There are three private equity firms that are lining up to take Chrysler off Daimler's hands and these are the Cerberus Capital Management LP, Centerbridge Partners LP, and the Blackstone Group.

Cerberus has already asked the help of former Chrysler chief operating officer Wolfgang Bernhard, who after leaving Volkswagen AG in January resurfaced shortly after as an adviser to Cerberus.

Other carmakers such as Renault, Nissan, VW, and Toyota have ruled out bidding for Chrysler.