STUTTGART - The fall in U.S. ownership of DaimlerChrysler could give the new company more room to maneuver outside the glare of restless American shareholders.
Only about 25 percent of DaimlerChrysler's shareholders are now in the United States, down from 44 percent on Day One of the merger last November, according to CFO Manfred Gentz.
Europeans, who now own about 63 percent of outstanding shares, are more patient investors than their U.S. counterparts, industry analysts say. They hold stocks longer and are more concerned with dividend payouts than share-price movement. U.S. investors tend to have a short-term outlook, analysts say.
DaimlerChrysler, which is incorporated in Germany, attributed the ownership shift to the fact that the merged company - unlike the former Chrysler Corp. -is not listed in Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. That led many U.S. mutual funds that track the S&P index to sell DaimlerChrysler shares.
'We are not at all worried about this movement, but we want to strengthen our American shareholder base,' said James Donlon, senior vice president for corporate accounting, controlling and reporting.
'This will probably give DaimlerChrysler managers more latitude in general because accountability to shareholders is less in Europe than in the U.S.,' said Andrew Blair-Smith, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
Another European analyst, who asked not to be named, said some of the U.S. selling may suggest that U.S. investors regard the new company as less transparent than the former Chrysler.
'I'm sure the amount of disclosure will be much less than the previous Chrysler,' said the analyst. 'U.S. investors may feel they won't have as good a handle on things.'