NEW YORK - Robert Eaton lit a cigar, leaned back in his chair and sent a cloud of pungent smoke billowing into the air. Juergen Schrempp puffed heartily on a cigarette.
Moments earlier, the co-chairmen of the new DaimlerChrysler AG had rung the closing bell of the day's trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
It was Day One - Tuesday, Nov. 17 - of DaimlerChrysler AG, the first day the new company's stock traded on Wall Street.
There are few secrets in the auto business. A hard-digging reporter usually flushes out the big stories before the persons or companies involved are willing to talk.
The DaimlerChrysler deal was a well-kept secret. Few people in either company knew about it. The media were in the dark until Chrysler and Daimler-Benz saw fit to enlighten them.
And that's about the only thing that has gone as planned for the new giant, the world's fifth-largest auto company behind General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp.
First of all, it wasn't a merger, although Chrysler tried valiantly to sell it as such. It was a takeover; DaimlerChrysler acquired Chrysler Corp.
Chrysler's Eaton didn't stay three years; he stayed about half that long. Schrempp is in control. And Stallkamp, the designated president, is no longer with DaimlerChrysler. There have been culture clashes; after all, German companies and American companies do not operate by the same rules. In DaimlerChrysler, the German side is dominant.
As for product, Mercedes-Benz is clearly the king. There will be no Chrysler-badged spinoffs of Mercedes models.
The price of common stock has not performed as Wall Street's oracles thought it should. Sales and market share have tailed off in recent months, but it takes time to work out the kinks in a $35 billion consolidation that involves corporations from different continents. DCX deserves a longer look.