The Daimler-Chrysler Merger: A New World Order?
In May 1998, Daimler-Benz, the biggest industrial firm in Europe and Chrysler, the third largest carmaker in the US merged. The carefully planned merger seemed to be a ``strategic fit.’’ Chrysler with its lower-priced cars, light trucks, pickups, and its successful minivans appeared to complement Daimler’s luxury cars, commercial vehicles, and sport utilities. There was little product-line overlap with the exception of the Chrysler’s Jeep and Daimler’s Mercedes M-Class sport utility vehicles.
The merger followed a trend of other consolidations. General Motors owns 50 percent of Swedish Saab AB and has subsidiaries Opel in Germany and Vaxuhall in England. Ford acquired British Jaguar and Aston Martin. The German carmaker BMW acquired British Rover, and Rolls Royce successfully sold its interests to Volkswagen and BMW. On the other hand, the attempted merger of Volvo and Renault failed and Ford later acquired Volvo.
The Daimler-Chrysler cross-cultural merger has the advantage of both CEO’s having international experience and knowledge of both German and American cultures. Chrysler’s Robert Eaton had experience in restyling Opel cars in GM’s European operation. Mr. Lutz, the co-chair at Chrysler, speaks fluent German, English, French, and Italian, and has past work experience with BMW, GM, and Ford. Daimler’s CEO Juergen Schrempp worked in the US with Euclid Inc. and has experience in South Africa giving him a global perspective. Background
Lee lacocca, the colorful Chrysler Chairman left Ford for Chrysler because of a clash with Henry Ford II in 1978. He is credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy in 1979/1980, when he negotiated a loan guaranty from the US government. Iacocca also led Chrysler’s CEO who negotiated the 1998 merger with Daimler, replaced Iacocca in 1992.
At the time of the merger, Daimler was selling fewer vehicles than Chrysler, but had higher revenues. Daimler’s 300,000...