October 4, 2007 at 6:22 AM EDT
BERLIN — Eager to respect an automotive pioneer and head off investor ire, the re-named Daimler AG will call its passenger car business Mercedes-Benz Cars, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche told shareholders on Thursday.
The German car maker summoned shareholders to approve a name change to Daimler AG from DaimlerChrysler, after selling a majority stake in struggling U.S. arm Chrysler to buyout group Cerberus.
Shareholders have welcomed the move to unwind the failed $36-billion merger and abolish the old name, but many German investors and fans of the Mercedes-Benz marque wanted the company to honour Carl Friedrich Benz again, at least in name.
Benz's company merged with that of Gottlieb Daimler in 1926 but his name fell off the corporate masthead when the now abandoned trans-Atlantic merger went through seven years ago.
Mr. Zetsche insisted Daimler had to be the name of the group, but said there was still plenty of room to honour Benz.
"The proud name of Benz will not only remain prominent, it will have significantly higher visibility," he said.
That means its premium division Mercedes Car Group will become known as Mercedes-Benz Cars, while the van unit will be called Mercedes-Benz Vans and DaimlerChrysler Bank will be renamed Mercedes-Benz Bank.
The group's market-leading trucks business will be called Daimler Trucks, the bus brands will operate under the name Daimler Buses and Financial Services will be renamed Daimler Financial Services.
"The group name Daimler clearly indicates that we are writing a new chapter of our history, while at the same time continuing our tradition as the inventor of the automobile," Mr. Zetsche said.
"And this rich heritage will remain an essential part of our identity – of our DNA, so to speak," he said.
Before the meeting began the company reported Mercedes Car Group sales rose 7.4 per cent in September to a record 124,600 vehicles, boosted by the new C-Class sedan.
In the first nine months of the year, Mercedes Car Group – the world's second-biggest premium car maker after BMW AG – achieved a slight increase of 0.9 percent in vehicle sales to 942,300, it added.
Mercedes Car Group includes Smart minicars and super-luxury Maybach limousines as well as the Mercedes-Benz brand.