Juergen Schrempp didn't use those words. But he might as well have. To sell the Daimler-Benz acquisition of Chrysler Corp. in 1998, he told Chrysler executives and shareholders that it would be a merger of equals. But all along, he acknow-ledged to a Financial Times reporter, he wanted to operate Chrysler as a division. Without the lie, Chrysler wouldn't have approved the deal, he said.
Schrempp's bizarre confession caused no end of trouble. Chrysler employees felt chumped, and morale dropped like a brick. Kirk Kerkorian, the company's third-largest stockholder, sued the company. Other shareholder suits followed.
Schrempp, who fancies himself a good chess player, said it was only natural for him to hide his true intentions from Chrysler executives. Perhaps. But in this case, Schrempp was checkmated by his own confession.