From Daimler-Benz to DaimlerChrysler and now ... just
plain old Daimler.
Many shareholders are sighing in relief as DaimlerChrysler goes
through the formality of shedding ``Chrysler'' from its letterhead _
a final farewell to the money-losing American automaker it sold most
of earlier this year.
But some are wondering: What happened to Mr. Benz?
Though shareholders are widely expected to approve the change to
``Daimler AG'' on Thursday, scores have complained that the company
should still include the name of Karl Benz, a man often considered
the grandfather of the automobile in Germany.
Among several motions to be considered at the meeting in Berlin,
shareholder Bernd Gans of Vaterstetten, Germany, argues that
returning to the original name would right a wrong.
``Replacing the traditional name of Benz with the name of the
U.S. corporation, which at that time was already sufficiently
well-known as a crisis company, was always regarded as arbitrary and
in bad style,'' he wrote.
``A return to including the name of one of the founders, Benz,
would ... constitute a certain degree of compensation for the many
years of frustration for the employees, particularly in the
traditional Benz plants, who deserve to find equal recognition in
the name of the corporation in the same way as the employees of the
Daimler-Benz was formed in 1926 by a combination of companies
founded by German automobile innovators Karl Benz and Gottlieb
Daimler-Benz AG took over Chrysler Corp. in a US$36-billion deal
in 1998, in what then-CEO Juergen Schrempp called a ``marriage made
in heaven'' as the German company looked for new markets and new
But the deal was never popular with German shareholders, who saw
the merger as dulling the sheen of one of their country's greatest
After a decade of up-and-down Chrysler earnings and repeated
cost-cutting, DaimlerChrysler AG finally decided earlier this year
to shed the American company.
In May, DaimlerChrysler AG's supervisory board approved selling
an 80.1 per cent stake in Chrysler to the private equity firm
Cerberus Capital Management LP.
Chief executive Dieter Zetsche said in August, however, that
Daimler AG plans to hold on to its 19.9 per cent stake in Chrysler,
and pledged ``close co-operation wherever it makes sense.''
The German company changed its share symbol on Frankfurt and New
York exchanges in August to DAI from DCX.
The deal leaves Daimler with its flagship Mercedes Car Group, its
micro Smart car unit and its truck unit, among other businesses.