More than anything, DaimlerChrysler AG would be a coming together of people.
The new company would employ 421,000 workers.
But 18 members of the management board - 10 from Daimler-Benz AG and eight from Chrysler Corp. - would have ultimate responsibility.
Culture clash is the biggest worry. The tone will be set at the top. Juergen Schrempp must get along with Robert Eaton; Juergen Hubbert must get along with Tom Stallkamp; Germans must get along with Americans.
There are fundamental differences. For example, most Chrysler executives speak only English, while all Daimler executives on the board speak at least two languages. But there are also striking similarities among men from different backgrounds who have been schooled in the same global auto industry.
Here is a look at the personalities on the DaimlerChrysler board.
Born: Sept. 15, 1944, in Freiburg, Germany
Languages: German, English
Aggressive and flamboyant, Schrempp has cut costs and restructured businesses with a vigor rarely seen in the German corporate world.
He spent the past three years reshaping Daimler-Benz and refocusing it on cars and trucks by selling more than a dozen businesses. Daimler returned to profitability in 1997.
Schrempp started humbly as an apprentice motor mechanic at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in his hometown of Freiburg, Germany. He joined Daimler-Benz in 1967 and skyrocketed to prominence after being sent to the United States in 1982 as president of Euclid Inc., an ailing heavy-truck unit that he restructured and sold.
When Daimler-Benz reorganized in 1989, Schrempp became president and CEO of newly formed Deutsche Aerospace AG, now Daimler-Benz Aerospace. He was named chairman of Daimler-Benz in 1994 and took the post in May 1995.
After Schrempp folded Mercedes-Benz AG into the Daimler holding company last year, Mercedes Chairman Helmut Werner quit.
'He was a friend of mine,' said Schrempp, 'but the structure of the company at the time was not designed for two.'
Born: April 22, 1942, in Calw, Germany
Languages: German, English
Bischoff left Daimler's board once but returned after Daimler bought his company, German Aerospace, in 1995.
He first joined Daimler as project manager for Mercedes-Benz off-road vehicles in 1976 after teaching at Alfred Weber Institute at the University of Heidelberg from 1968-76.
He moved to international finance in 1981 and to the board of Daimler-Benz do Brasil in 1988. He left in 1989 for Deutsche Aerospace and was named Daimler Aerospace chairman after its purchase.
Bischoff rejoined the Daimler board in April 1997. His contract runs to 2000.
He was president of the European Association of Aerospace Industries from 1995-96.
Strategy and Business Development
Nov. 25, 1950, in Neumuenster, Germany
Languages: German, English
Hobbies: Skiing, sports
Daimler-Benz's fast-talking head of corporate strategy was a key figure in the merger negotiations. A trusted adviser to Juergen Schrempp, Cordes attended an early meeting between Schrempp and Robert Eaton on Feb. 11 in Geneva.
'He knows answers to almost all questions,' said a colleague.
Cordes joined Daimler-Benz in 1976 after studying economics at the University of Hamburg. He started out as an assistant to the Sindelfingen plant director. Next came a series of finance jobs: in charge of investments for Mercedes passenger cars; chief controller for new commercial vehicle projects; and CFO at Mercedes do Brasil in Sao Paulo.
In 1989, he moved to Daimler's AEG unit as financial controller. His main duty was to prepare the sale of the troubled subsidiary.
Cordes joined the Daimler management board in April 1997, responsible for group strategy and industrial partnerships.
Born: Jan. 22, 1942, in Riga, Latvia
Languages: German, English, ancient Greek
Hobbies: Fine arts
A lawyer described by colleagues as quiet, thoughtful, sometimes overcorrect, Gentz is an honorary judge in the German Industrial Court.
He personifies Daimler's corporate culture. He has been a member of senior management since 1983, when he was named deputy board member in charge of human resources. Gentz became a full management board member two years later with the same responsibilities. He held the job until former Chairman Edzard Reuter asked him to run Daimler-Benz InterServices (Debis) when the division was formed in 1990. He hesitated at first, then accepted the job. Reuter praised his efforts in his recent autobiography.
In May 1995, Genz was made responsible for finance and personnel on the management board. Since the restructuring last April, he has been in charge of finance.
Daimler-Benz Passenger Cars
Born: July 24, 1939, in Hagen, Germany
Languages: German, English
Hobbies: Collects antique teddy bears
Hubbert has been in charge of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars for more than a decade, working alongside tough bosses.
He gets most of the credit for expanding Mercedes' product lineup, though problems with the A-class rollover last fall nearly brought him down. Hubbert's crowning achievement may be this fall's new S class.
He joined Daimler-Benz in 1965 direct from Stuttgart University. He was named head of production planning at the Sindelfingen plant in 1984 and head of Daimler-Benz corporate planning in 1985. In September 1987, Hubbert was appointed deputy member of the management board responsible for the passenger-car division.
Inside Daimler, he is revered for his honesty and down-to-earth manner. 'It might not be easy for him sometimes in the pool of sharks,' said a source.
Daimler-Benz Commercial Vehicles
Born: May 19, 1946, in Stuttgart, Germany
Languages: German, English, Latin
His star is rising in the Daimler-Benz ranks. Since Lauk joined the company as head of commercial vehicles in August 1996, the world's largest truckmaker has turned its first profit in 20 years.
Lauk began the Nissan Diesel talks months ago and is the key person in the negotiations.
His father was a missionary in China. Lauk studied for the priesthood but chose the business world instead. He received a master's degree in business administration from Stanford University in 1977, then spent six years with Boston Consulting Group in the United States and Germany.
From 1984-89, he led Zinser Textilmaschinen GmbH in Ebersbach, Germany. He entered the auto industry in 1989 as Audi's deputy chairman in charge of finance, business development and marketing. In June 1992, he moved to VEBA AG in Duesseldorf as head of finance.
He carried his highly analytical style to every Mercedes-Benz truck plant in the world after taking over, then drew up a strategy for restoring profits.
Born: June 6, 1943, in Pforzheim, Germany
Languages: German, English, French
Mangold has had the least involvement with autos of all members of the DaimlerChrysler board. His expertise is textiles.
He retains responsibility for financial services subsidiary Debis, but his board position is nonvoting.
He joined the Daimler board in April 1995 from German mail-order company Quelle Schickedanz, where he was chairman from 1991. Previously, he ran the German textile industry trade organization Thyssen Trust and the artificial fiber and filter producer Rhodia.
He was named Debis chairman in May 1995, and his contract runs to 2000.
Daimler-Benz Human Resources
Born: April 3, 1942, in Hannover, Germany
Languages: German, English
Tropitzsch is Daimler's link to the powerful German unions. As head of human resources, he negotiates labor contracts.
He joined Daimler-Benz straight from college in 1969. He was plant manager of the Gaggenau, Germany, truck plant from 1984-86 and headed Daimler's largest car plant, in Sindelfingen, Germany, from 1987-89. Tropitzsch was in charge of human resources at Mercedes-Benz AG from 1989-97. He was elevated to the Daimler-Benz board last year, surviving the merger of Mercedes-Benz and its parent.
Research and Technology
Born: Aug. 28, 1941, in Dessau, Germany
Languages: German, English
Voehringer is pushing new technology at Daimler-Benz, as one would expect from the head of r&d. Daimler has been at the forefront of fuel-cell research, and Voehringer has promised to put such a car on the market in 2005.
He has a well-rounded background at Daimler-Benz, with experience in technical and strategic areas, for both cars and trucks.
He joined Daimler-Benz in 1967, reaching upper management in 1987, when he was put in charge of planning and production for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.
In 1993, he was transferred to commercial vehicles, and he has served in positions including development, technical planning and production.
Daimler-Benz Sales and Marketing
May 5, 1953, in Istanbul, Turkey
Languages: German, English, Spanish
Hobbies: Horses, motorcycles
Lanky, mustachioed Zetsche has had a varied career at Daimler-Benz.
He was in charge of passenger-car development before being named head of sales and marketing in 1995.
His overseas experience includes stints as president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina in Buenos Aires and president of Freightliner Corp., the U.S. commercial vehicle subsidiary.
Zetsche joined Daimler after studying electronics at the Technical University in Karlsruhe. His first job was in corporate strategy.
Zetsche likes horseback riding. Colleagues say he is unusually friendly and open for a big-time auto executive.
'Recently, you can tell that he has been under strain,' said one. 'But he would never complain.'
Born: Feb. 13, 1940, in Buena Vista, Colo.
Hobbies: Scuba diving, skiing, hunting, golf
Eaton looks meek in public, but he is powerful in private. He made a team player of the powerfully independent Robert Lutz. He rebuffed Lee Iacocca's attempt to return to power, and he defended Chrysler's management from investor Kirk Kerkorian. And without a word leaking out, he arranged DaimlerChrysler.
He spent a career at GM, much of it in technical areas. He was president of GM Europe when Chrysler hired him in March 1992 as vice chairman and COO. He succeeded Iacocca as chairman and CEO Jan. 1, 1993.
Chrysler International and Latin America Strategy
July 14, 1946, in Escanaba, Mich.
Languages: English, some Spanish
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing
Cunningham was born in a part of Michigan where a trip to neighboring Wisconsin for a football game or shopping is the year's biggest adventure. He wanted more and got it.
He started out as an administrative trainee in Chrysler's Chicago sales zone and over 15 years gained enough respect to get posted to Harvard's prestigious Advanced Management Program. He was elected a vice president Sept. 24, 1987.
Today, the world is his neighborhood.
At Chrysler, Cunningham is responsible for sales and marketing efforts in more than 75 countries, along with vehicle manufacturing and assembly operations in several locations.
Chrysler Design; External Affairs
Born: June 18, 1943, in Flint, Mich.
Hobbies: Building hot rods, boating
Gale is a talented car designer who has learned to extend his visual understanding of the future into other management areas. Like his Chrysler colleagues, he learned many areas of the automotive business under Robert Eaton, and he has been in charge of Jeep operations since Jan. 1.
His most critical role is as product strategist. Pilot Robert Lutz carried the flag for passionate products until his retirement; now it is in the hands of Gale, who once had time to build hot rods himself at his northern Michigan cottage.
Chrysler Sales and Marketing
Born: May 12, 1951, in Windsor, Ontario
Hobbies: Golf, boating
Holden is a salesman whose talents extend to general management. He started his career with Ford in 1973 but took a sales job at Chrysler in 1981, as fleet development manager in truck operations.
Over the years, he rose through the sales organization, and in January 1996, he became executive vice president for sales and marketing.
At that level with Chrysler, one does something else as well. Just before the DaimlerChrysler talks started, he also took charge of minivan operations, Mopar parts, communications and Chrysler de Mexico.
Born: May 5, 1941, in Milan, Mich.
Hobbies: Active in university education
Pawley is a shirt-sleeve visionary who talks directly to workers and chief executives. Other American manufacturers were too proud to see the benefits of the Toyota Manufacturing System. Pawley was amazed when he saw it in action.
He benchmarked it, adapted it and has started to spread the Chrysler Operating System to the plants around the world that report to him.
Chrysler's reputation for quality lags behind Ford's and GM's, and Pawley is charged with correcting the situation.
The key is education. He cares about the workers. He has developed a method of teaching staff to pass on new skills to other workers and to make factory work more interesting.
His interest in education is broader, and he is a trustee of the Chrysler Institute of Engineering and Oakland University.
Born: Nov. 14, 1949, in New Britain, Conn.
Hobbies: Art history, golf, skiing
Sidlik is a money man now following the well-marked purchasing trail set up by Tom Stallkamp and currently watched over by Gary Valade.
He joined Chrysler in 1980 as manager of car product financial analysis, and he worked his way up the financial side to become chairman of Chrysler Financial Corp.
He was general manager of small-car operations, and that area continues to report to him as executive vice president for procurement and supply.
Chrysler Cars and Trucks; Integration Council
Born: Sept. 6, 1946, in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Hobbies: Tennis, golf, boating
Stallkamp rose from the invisible ranks of purchasing executives by spreading the team spirit to the people on the other side of the table, the suppliers.
When Chrysler came out of financial collapse the second time, in the early 1990s, he was part of a band of talented executives that held together for nearly a decade. Francois Castaing, Tom Gale, Dennis Pawley, Thomas Denomme and others learned to share by swapping jobs and working together in new ways.
Stallkamp learned best, and on Jan. 1, he rose from the pack to become president of Chrysler.
Born: Oct. 13, 1942, in Detroit
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, golf, tennis
Valade is a money man. He was Robert Eaton's right-hand man in the negotiations with Daimler-Benz. He started in the corporate controller's office 30 years ago, and now that office reports to him. He will bring experience with balance sheets, not deal making, to his role as chief of global purchasing.
His approach toward long-term thinking shows up in his list of public interests in Michigan. He gives time to education, art, a health company and charity through the Chrysler Corp. Fund.