WILMINGTON, Del. -- Tom Stallkamp, former president of the Chrysler group, discovered Monday that defending the DaimlerChrysler merger in court is tougher when a new management book criticizes it.
Especially when Stallkamp is the book's co-author.
An attorney for billionaire Chrysler investor Kirk Kerkorian accused Stallkamp of contradicting his own testimony in a new business book, Getting Bigger By Growing Smaller, which appeared in book stores late last year.
Stallkamp, who is now CEO of the engineering giant MSX International, tersely answered the charges, saying there was no contradiction. He maintained that the merger was not an acquisition, but a genuine merger of equals.
"I do believe the book is completely consistent with what I've testified," Stallkamp said after attorney Terry Christensen accused him of giving "false testimony."
The book, co-authored with business professor Joel Shulman, states that the effort to unite Chrysler Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG of Germany as equal partners was short-lived.
"Three years after the highly publicized deal, touted as the biggest and best "Merger of Equals" in the manufacturing world, results have been less than spectacular," the book says.
Kerkorian is suing DaimlerChrysler and senior German executives in U.S. District Court here on the allegation that Daimler intended to take over Chrysler all along, and therefore should have paid him and other shareholders a takeover premium back in 1998.
Stallkamp already testified in defense of the merger at the trial in December. But he was called back to the witness chair Monday afternoon for additional testimony after his name appeared on documents that surfaced after he gave his testimony.
But discussion of that evidence quickly gave way to Stallkamp's newly published book.
Over shouts of objection from DaimlerChrylser's attorney, Christensen and a legal assistant surprised the court by handing out a stack of freshly minted copies of Stallkamp's book Monday afternoon. U.S. District Judge Joseph Farnan Jr. perused the dust jacket as Christensen grilled the former Chrysler boss.
Christensen used a projection screen to display an excerpt about the merger, reading: "The acquiring company prevailed in the long run and the experiment for a merger did not last a year."
Christensen taunted the executive: "Sitting here today, it's merger of equals. Whereas, in the book, it's 'the acquiring company.'"
Stallkamp admitted that he canceled a media interview to promote the book in December immediately after learning that he might be recalled for more testimony.
Kerkorian's legal team has been trying to prove that former Chrysler executives such as Stallkamp were not as happy about the DaimlerChrysler merger as they have claimed in public. Proving that would lend credence to Kerkorian's claim that even Chrysler's top American managers were deceived by Daimler's secret takeover.
But Kerkorian has had little success at it. Several former Chrysler group executives maintained on the witness stand that they still believe in the merger, even if things have not gone as originally planned in 1998.
Stallkamp himself testified in December that he supported the merger, even though he was fired as president after complaining about tedious bureaucratic tendencies on the German side of the new company.