As the largest shareholder of what was then Chrysler Corp., Kirk Kerkorian prodded the company for high dividends, then pressed it to consider a buyout offer from Daimler-Benz AG.
Now Kerkorian, as General Motors' largest individual shareholder, is proposing another marriage, between GM and Renault-Nissan.
Kerkorian has followed the same game plan at GM and Chrysler.
At both, Kerkorian succeeded in having a proxy elected to the board of directors -- former Chrysler executive Jerome York, in both cases.
At GM, York has challenged the company's involvement in Saab and Hummer, pressed for a reduction in dividends and salaries, and urged GM to sell a piece of its GMAC finance arm.
While representing Kerkorian at Chrysler during more profitable days in the 1990s, York relentlessly pressed management into redirecting its cash into shareholder dividends. When Chrysler's long-term strategy began to look doubtful, York recommended some sort of sellout -- possibly to Daimler.
When Daimler-Benz proposed the merger soon after, Kerkorian supported the idea. But he was unpleasantly surprised by its outcome: York lost his influence when Chrysler was folded into the larger and more formal German company.
Kerkorian later unsuccessfully sued DaimlerChrysler AG and its top executives, claiming he had not been adequately compensated in the merger.
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