DaimlerChrysler CEO Jürgen Schrempp has responded to speculation about his unexpected resignation on Thursday, saying he himself decided to leave the top post at the world's fifth biggest carmaker.
Schrempp has spoken out to quell speculation
Jürgen Schrempp said he had prepared to resign long before he announced his departure on Thursday.
"I had already talked about it with supervisory board head Hilmar Kopper for some time," Schrempp told German newsmagazine Focus. He said the two men concurred that the end of the year was the best time for a change of leadership.
According to Der Spiegel newsmagazine, Kopper and workers' council head Erich Klemm had already decided in April 2004 that Schrempp should only lead the company for another two or three years, which the latter agreed to. Still, the CEO's contract was renewed until 2008 in order to avoid a debate over his successor. In return, Schrempp agreed not to claim the remaining salary he would have normally been due for resigning before his contract's expiration.
Kopper (photo) told Der Spiegel that he could tell that Schrempp no longer wanted to continue after he faced harsh criticism over his wife's position at DaimlerChrysler attacked at the company's annual shareholders' meeting in April. Further talks between Schrempp, Kopper and Klemm about the CEO's future started in May, Kopper said.
Schrempp forced out?
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that institutional investors had forced Schrempp's resignation. Hedge funds had been buying up DaimlerChrysler shares since the April shareholders' meeting in order to have more influence, the paper wrote.
Speculation also raged about Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann having played a role in the events. The bank had in the past made clear it intended to sell a portion of its previous 10.4 percent stake in DaimlerChrysler. The FAZ suggested Ackermann could have pressure Kopper to take steps in the bank's favor. Deutsche Bank sold some of those shares the day Schrempp announced his resignation, news that caused DaimlerChrysler stocks to shoot up in value.
EU Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen on Saturday called on DaimlerChrysler to provide transparency by explaining the events that led to Schrempp's resignation.
"I would always recommend thoroughly explaining decisions of this sort to avoid opening the floodgates to wild speculations," Verheugen told Bild am Sonntag weekly.