Taken for a Ride: How Daimler-Benz Drove Off With Chrysler
Bill Vlasic, Bradley A. Stertz
Here is the book that exposed the Daimler-Chrysler "merger of equals" as a bold German takeover of an industrial icon. Taken for a Ride reveals the shock waves felt around the world when Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler for $36 billion in 1998. In a gripping narrative, Bill Vlasic and Bradley A. Stertz go behind the scenes of the defining corporate drama of the decade -- and in a new epilogue chart its chaotic aftermath.
brought Chrysler back from the brink. Eaton and Lutz couldn’t have been more different. Lutz grew up rich, rootless, and restless. He was born on February 13—the same date as Eaton—in 1932 in Zurich, Switzerland, the first of three sons for Robert Harry Lutz, a prominent executive with Credit Suisse Bank, and his wife, Margaret. The family moved back and forth from Europe to the United States, and Lutz bounced through schools in Zurich, Lausanne, and the wealthy New York suburbs of Scarsdale and
money,” Iacocca blustered. TAKEN FOR A RIDE / 55 But he did handle Deutsche Bank, and the money wasn’t there either. “Lee, we’ve done a lot of business with you,” a Deutsche Bank executive told Iacocca. “We might play with you, but it has got to be friendly. We don’t want it to be hostile.” KERKORIAN’S BID WAS SPUTTERING. Chrysler’s stock price fell to $44 by April 20, the day of the Bank of America meeting. The early euphoria on Wall Street had gone flat and surly. Angry and confused traders
done all the right things,” director Earl Graves said admiringly. The hotel hall seemed like a patriotic pep rally, with Eaton playing the role of conquering hero. Denomme chided a reporter who was asking directors about Kerkorian. “You still riding that horse?” Denomme scoffed. “That horse is dead.” Reporters rushed to telephones for Kerkorian’s reaction to the dividend. “This is a very small step in the right direction,” Yemenidjian conceded. There was an air of finality in St. Louis. The
would be in the thick of it. He planned a whirlwind set of trips to Brazil, Argentina, India, Indonesia, and beyond. He already felt a sense of camaraderie, a friendship with Jonscher and his team. “They are great people,” he would tell Eaton. Eaton felt the same way. In the tumult created by Kerkorian, Eaton wanted to move on Q-Star. Mercedes was a lifeline. It was the type of bold move he needed to show investors that Chrysler had a vision. Eaton did have reservations. Lutz had planted plenty
of that junk. I’ve got the profitable piece.” Lutz didn’t get it. “I don’t know about your situation,” Lutz said. “I have a lot of autonomy running operations at Chrysler, but I do talk to my boss a lot and keep him informed of what I’m doing, to keep him up to speed. If I were to do things of a policy nature without informing him, I think he’d feel I was overstepping my authority.” “Ah yes, but that is not the case here,” Werner said. “It’s an entirely different situation. Lutz had a suspicion