FEBRUARY 10, 2004
Schrempp back in court
DaimlerChrysler boss Jurgen Schrempp was back in court on Monday fighting the lawsuit from billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who claims that Schrempp misled Chrysler investors when he portrayed the takeover of Chrysler as a merger or equals. Kerkorian wants the deal annulled and $1bn in damages. If he wins the case Schrempp will almost certainly have to resign. The case is currently examining 60 pages of previously undisclosed notes made by Gary Valade, Chrysler's former chief financial officer. These do not tie in with Schrempp's previous testimony.
None of this is likely to affect Mercedes-Benz's involvement in Formula 1, although there is no doubt that Schrempp is a supporter of the F1 programme and any replacement might consider a change in that policy, particularly as the company has not won the World Championship since 1999. At the moment the men who are in line for the job appear to be Chrysler boss Dieter Zetsche and DaimlerChrysler's head of commercial vehicles Eckhard Cordes. Jurgen Hubbert, the Mercedes-Benz boss and a big supporter of the programme is 60 this year and is too old for the top job in competition with the likes of Zetsche (50) and Cordes (53). The official retirement age in Germany is 65 but the average retirement age is around 60.
It is worth noting that some insiders at Daimler-Benz believe that the takeover of Chrysler was a mistake as it has cost the company a huge amount of money. The value of the firm has dropped from $47bn before the takeover to $38bn today. In the same period BMW share vaue has risen by 27%.
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