In 1999, a group of shareholders launched a court action against DaimlerChrysler management. They shareholders felt that their shares in Daimler AG (before the DaimlerChrysler “merger of equals”) were undervalued because management used an unfair exchange ratio (1.005 shares of DCX to every share of old Daimler AG). In 2006, a Stuttgart court ruled in favor of the shareholders and ordered DaimlerChrysler to pay them €230m (about $321m in today’s exchange rates). As far as everyone was concerned, that was the end of that. But not to Daimler. (Read More…)
After four straight profitable quarters, Alan Mulally’s forecast today of a “solidly profitable” 2010 shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But, as Executive Chairman Bill Ford put it to Ford shareholders at the company’s annual meeting [via AP],
It is the very early days in our recovery. We still have a lot of debt
And he’s not kidding. As of the end of Q1 2010, Ford was carrying $34b in debt. And though Ford faces a higher cost of borrowing because of its staggering debts, Bill Ford was clear that he wouldn’t trade places with Ford’s Detroit competitors, which cleaned out their balance books, at the expense of government bailouts and accompanying PR problems. After all, while GM and Chrysler were rebuilding, Ford managed to outperform both of them last year by gaining sales and market share. And Ford’s leadership sees that momentum carrying forward into next year.
For years, TTAC has argued that General Motors suffers from a profound lack of accountability. Specific instances include the $2b “Fiatsco,” most of Roger Smith’s tenure, and cars like the Pontiac Aztek and Cadillac Cimmaron. Incidents like these helped GM along its decades-long plunge into bankruptcy, unchecked by the lax corporate governance of what came to be called its Board of Bystanders. Hyundai’s CEO may have received similarly lax treatment from South Korea’s criminal justice system, but at least the shareholders are standing up for their investment.