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Name-change proposal fails at DCX shareholder meeting

From freep| April 05,2007

A proposal to drop Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler AG’s official name failed to garner enough votes from shareholders to pass late this evening.

DaimlerChrysler Supervisory Board Chairman Hilmar Kopper ended shareholder questioning about 9 p.m. local time -- 3 p.m. in Detroit.

Shareholders then voted on a series of routine annual business and 17 shareholder proposals, including an idea to change the company’s name to Daimler-Benz by no latter than next year if Chrysler isn’t sold first.

All of the management-suggested motions were passed, as expected, including issuing a dividend of 1.50 euro per share. None of the shareholder measures passed, as expected. The name change proposal only received 1.59% of the votes in support.

Prior to the vote, shareholders acknowledged the unlikelihood of the name change proposal passing.

Shareholder Stefan Schickentanz predicted Chrysler will one day be dropped from the company’s name. “Next year things will look quite different,” he said, “I am quite sure.”

Kopper faced heavy criticism throughout the meeting, in large part because of his previous support of Juergen Schrempp, the predecessor to Dieter Zetsche.

Schrempp oversaw Daimler-Benz AG’s purchase of Chrysler Corp. in 1998 and retired in 2005 after falling out of favor with German shareholders and supervisory board members over his global strategy.

At several points throughout the day -- and more so into the evening -- the shareholder comments became quit biting and personal against Kopper.

One shareholder, for example, became vocally unhappy that Kopper was reading something while the shareholder was talking.

"I have two ears. I can listen with my left ear and my right ear," Kopper responded.

This was Kopper’s last meeting. His term ended and the shareholders appointed Clemens Börsig of Frankfurt.

In February, the supervisory board decided board member Manfred Bischoff would become chairman following Wednesday’s meeting to replace Kopper who had been board chairman for 17 years.

DaimlerChrysler executives had opposed the name change because they said the company’s name was already known worldwide.

“We have this crappy subsidiary in the United States that we can’t get rid of, not at least without paying for it, and if we have this subsidiary it has to be mentioned in the name of our company,” said Ekkehard Wenger, a German university professor, who had proposed stripping Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler's name, summing up how he saw the reasons why the company opposed the change.

The annual meeting adjourned at 10:43 p.m. -- nearly 13 hours after it began. Under Germany law, the meeting had to be done by 11:59 p.m. There was some belief within the company prior to the meeting that shareholders would push it into the final minutes.

Next year's meeting will be held April 9 in Berlin.

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