Symbolic Name Changes At Company
All it took was one shareholders' meeting for DaimlerChrysler to get a fresh start and new identity. DaimlerChrysler AG shareholders overwhelmingly voted to change the company's name to Daimler AG. Over 98% of shareholders were in favor of the measure, seen as a way of distancing the company from a disastrous $36 billion merger in 1998 with Chrysler.
Chrysler was sold off to private equity firm Cerebrus Capital Management in August 2007 for roughly $6 billion.
Additionally, CEO Dieter Zetsche told shareholders that Daimler AG's first order of business was to rename its passenger car division Mercedes-Benz Cars, once again honoring Carl Friedrich Benz. Benz's company combined with Gottlieb Daimler in 1926, but the Chrysler merger saw his name dropped from the car's branding.
"The proud name of Benz will not only remain prominent, it will have significantly higher visibility," Zetsche said.
The announcement comes on the heels of strong business news for both Mercedes and its parent company. Selling a record 124,600 vehicles, thanks in part to the new C-Class sedan, Mercedes showed a growth of 7.4% in total sales. Mercedes also saw an increase in sales during August, and has seen an overall year-to-year increase of nearly 1% to 942,300 vehicles sold, according to Daimler LLC. Smart also saw a hefty sales increase, with monthly sales jumping up 11.2%, on the introduction of the Smart ForTwo.
Daimler further expects Mercedes to increase its sales with the new C-Class station wagon rolling out since its introduction at Frankfurt. Mercedes-Benz' green movements, with more fuel efficient engine choices, are also expected to help pad sales figures.
Since late August 2007, Daimler has spent over €1 billion in a share buyback programme, signaling to the market that the company is confident they will continue seeing growth through all divisions in the near future. Daimler's stock is also trading at nearly double its value from October 2006, when it bottomed out at $49.53 on the New York Stock Exchange and €39.31 on Germany's Xetra exchange. On the NYSE, the company's stock have risen over 17% since the buyback programme began.
It was not just the financial growth that the CEO focused on. Zetsche continued to distance his company from its previous mistakes by remarking that the "group name Daimler clearly indicates that we are writing a new chapter of our history, while at the same time continuing our tradition as the inventor of the automobile."
"And this rich heritage will remain an essential part of our identity -- of our DNA, so to speak."