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A DaimlerChrysler Retrospective

Was the merger of Daimler and Chrysler really a merger of equals?

December 6, 2000

Was the merger of Daimler and Chrysler really a merger of equals?

When Daimler Benz and Chrysler Motor Company announced their merger in November 1998, much speculation surrounded the feasibility of a ‘merger between equals’ of these industrial giants. Under the direction of DaimlerChrysler’s CEO, Jürgen Schrempp, these questions were soon put to rest. Our new Read My Lips feature explains why.

Was it really a ‘merger among equals?’

“We should have never called this ‘a merger among equals.’ It wasn’t a ‘merger among equals.’ It was an acquisition — and by calling it something else, we confused a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic.” (U.S.-based executive, March 1999)

“The structure we have now with Chrysler [as a stand-alone division] was always the structure I wanted. If I had gone and said Chrysler would be a division, everybody on their side would have said: ‘There is no way we’ll do a deal.’ (CEO Jürgen Schrempp, July 1998)

What did the “Chrysler Americans” have to teach the “Daimler Germans” — and vice versa?

“Chrysler is lean and very fast in its decision-making. Our aim is to take the best of both companies, and leave the worst.” (Jürgen Schrempp, July 1998)

“Before the merger, we thought that they were extremely organized, methodical, detailed. In reality, there’s a lot of emotion in their decision making.” (Tom Stallkamp, DaimlerChrysler’s then-2nd highest ranking American, April 1999)

How does DaimlerChrysler’s CEO feel about sharing power at the top?

“Only an odd number of directors can run a company — and three is too many.” (Jürgen Schrempp, July 1997)

What about the brain drain from Chrysler after the merger took place?

“Someone asked me whether, if I could turn things back, is there somebody I would really have liked to keep? I mentioned one name, just to be polite. But generally speaking, I’m very happy the way it went.” (Jürgen Schrempp, November 2000)

“If we need somebody from Ford or General Motors, we would buy it as well.” (Jürgen Schrempp, April 1999)

Are mistakes a cost of doing business?

“If we call ourselves businessmen, we make mistakes. Otherwise, we do not deserve the epithet of businessmen.” (Jürgen Schrempp, April 1999, on Daimler’s acquisition of Fokker, the Dutch aircraft manufacturer)

And what about the stock market, which has not been kind to DaimlerChrysler?

“I just can’t understand why if a good company comes in with profits on target but revenues 3% or whatever below expectations, the stock drops 15%. I’ll abide by the rules, but I have a big problem with this.” (Jürgen Schrempp, November 2000)

“I’m not the type of person who sulks, or bursts into tears.” (Jürgen Schrempp, November 2000)

What if …?

“It is obvious, if you commit yourself and don't deliver, what the result is.” (Jürgen Schrempp, February 2001)