Tuesday, August 21, 2007

DaimlerChrysler Names Grube for Chrysler Board Seat (Update3)

By Laurence Frost and Jeff Bennett

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- DaimlerChrysler AG, the world's second-biggest maker of luxury cars, named strategy chief Ruediger Grube and two other executives to represent the automaker at the newly independent Chrysler.

Grube will represent DaimlerChrysler's 19.9 percent stake in Chrysler Holding LLC, created after the U.S. division's Aug. 3 sale to Cerberus Capital Management LP, Silke Walters, a spokeswoman at the Stuttgart, Germany-based carmaker, said in a telephone interview.

Grube, 56, helped implement the 1998 merger of Daimler-Benz AG and Chrysler Corp., which was reversed with Cerberus's purchase of the U.S. division. He has been head of strategy at DaimlerChrysler since September 2000 and a member of the management board since October 2001. Walters's comment confirmed an Aug. 17 report by German trade publication Automobilwoche of Grube's appointment to Chrysler's board.

The executive is also co-chairman of Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., in which DaimlerChrysler holds a 15 percent stake. Grube will become sole EADS chairman after shareholders at the Paris- and Munich-based aerospace company approve a change in management structure in the next two months.

``It looks like he's now the 'other businesses' guy'' for DaimlerChrysler, said Stefan Bauknecht, who oversees $1.6 billion in assets for Frankfurt-based DWS Investment. ``He's there to observe.''

The appointment may offer clues about how DaimlerChrysler views its Chrysler stake, given Grube's deal-making background, said Michael Tyndall, a London-based analyst with Nomura.


``You've got to wonder whether he's got a sit-and-listen directive to decide whether they should keep that 20 percent,'' Tyndall said.

Cerberus is moving to appoint boards as Chrysler Holding begins to compete as a wholly U.S. carmaker. The holding company controls Chrysler LLC, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based auto- manufacturing unit, and Chrysler Financial, the loan-services division with headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Chrysler LLC named Robert Nardelli, the former chief executive officer of Home Depot Inc., as CEO two weeks ago. Gerd Becht, head of DaimlerChrysler's legal department, will sit on the auto unit's board while Juergen Walker, head of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services AG, gains a board seat at Chrysler Financial, Han Tjan, a DaimlerChrysler spokesman in New York, said today.

The division's sale to Cerberus leaves DaimlerChrysler with the Mercedes Car Group, which ranks second in worldwide luxury- vehicle sales after Munich-based Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, and the world's biggest truckmaking business, with brands including Mercedes and Freightliner. DaimlerChrysler plans to rename itself Daimler AG at a shareholders meeting Oct. 4.

DaimlerChrysler shares fell 74 euro cents, or 1.2 percent, to 59.40 euros. The stock has risen 27 percent this year, valuing the company at 61.1 billion euros ($82.3 billion).

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