March 10, 2008 – Business Management Article
Daimler 2007 Profit Rises
Mercedes-Benz maker, Daimler AG and the world’s second-largest maker of luxury vehicles reported profits in its fourth-quarter results for 2007. The good results this quarter have come after selling the Chrysler division in the U.S. and cutting jobs at Mercedes-Benz Cars. Without Chrysler, Daimler reported profits of 1.7 billion euros (£1.3 billion) for the fourth quarter and a net profit of 4 billion euros for the year (3.8 billion euros in 2006). Sales rose to 99.4 billion euros ($144.98 billion) from 99.2 billion euros, with 2.1 million automobiles sold globally. In May last year, after a decade of disappointing results, Daimler finally sold Chrysler to private equity firm Cerberus Capital for £3.74 billion.
With the North American car and truck market struggling this year from the impact of falling house prices in the wake of the sub-prime crisis, Daimler is banking on demand from China, India and Russia. Daimler, the Stuttgart-based company expects the North American truck market to recover in the second half of the year.
Daimler Chrysler Merger Failure
In 1926, the merger of two German automobile manufacturers Benz & Co. and Daimler Motor Company formed Stuttgart-based, German company Daimler-Benz. Its Mercedes cars were arguably the best example of German quality and engineering.
In 1998, Daimler-Benz and U.S. based Chrysler Corporation, two leading global car manufacturers, agreed to combine their businesses in what was perceived to be a ‘merger of equals’. Jurgen Schrempp, CEO of Daimler-Benz and Robert Eaton, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Corporation met to discuss the possible merger.
The merged entity ranked third (after GM and Ford) in the world in terms of revenues, market capitalization and earnings, and fifth (after GM, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen) in the number of units (passenger-cars and commercial vehicles combined) sold. In 1998, co-chairmen and co-CEOs, Schrempp and Eaton led the merged company to revenues of $155.3 billion and sold 4 million cars and trucks. But in 2000, it suffered third quarter losses of more than half a billion dollars, and projections of even higher losses in the fourth quarter and into 2001. In early 2001, the merged company announced that it would slash 26,000 jobs at its ailing Chrysler division.
Daimler, Chrysler and cultural differences
The Daimler Chrysler merger proved to be a costly mistake for both the companies. Daimler was driven to despair, and to a loss, by its merger with Chrysler. Last year, the merged group reported a loss of 12 million euros.
Analysts felt that though strategically, the merger made good business sense. But contrasting cultures and management styles hindered the realization of the synergies. Daimler-Benz attempted to run Chrysler USA operations in the same way as it would run its German operations. Daimler-Benz was characterized by methodical decision-making. On the other hand, the US based Chrysler encouraged creativity. While Chrysler represented American adaptability and valued efficiency and equal empowerment Daimler-Benz valued a more traditional respect for hierarchy and centralized decision-making.
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