Sell-off scenario for DaimlerChrysler a long shot

Stuttgart. Leading automotive experts now see little danger of a sell-off of DaimlerChrysler assets.

"That is a highly speculative scenario," said Willi Diez, director of the Institute for Automotive Economics. "Dieter Zetsche has at least two years to again generate a reasonable income level before investors become restive."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that hedge funds have been holding a stake of about 20 percent in the company and were entertaining divestiture plans.

"Mercedes and Chrysler are much too closely interwoven for that ," Diez said. Even the sales linkage between cars and commercial vehicles has been running too successfully for such a scenario.

The stake that DaimlerChrysler holds in EADS, the European aerospace company, is a purely financial participation.

"Here, political interests are playing an important role," Diez said. "The French government will make sure that the company doesn't fall into the wrong hands."

Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the CAR Institute said, "First of all, the right buyers have to be found for the components deemed to be valuable. Daimler isn't the German stock exchange."

Hedge funds and private equity investors wouldn't be able to put pressure on the board that quickly.

DaimlerChrysler's Smart division has drawn steady fire.

"If a buyer was able to be found for Rover, one could be found for this money-losing brand as well," an analyst said.

As Zetsche takes over at Mercedes, he will be tackling a far more important issue than divestiture, according to experts: Cutting about 5,000 jobs with the help of a compensation program for affected workers.

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