Daimler resists Swedish investment fund

Swedish investment fund Cevian is putting pressure on German car maker Daimler to countenance a move to hive off its truck and van division. A Daimler spokesman rejected Cevian's move on Saturday.

“It is not a subject for discussion,” a spokesman for the Stuttgart-based manufacturer, whose most prestigious brand is Mercedes-Benz, told AFP.

“We are against detaching the utility vehicles division.”

In a report to appear Monday, the weekly magazine Focus says representatives of Cevian Capital had called on Daimler boss Dieter Zetschke to break up the division and sell off the heavy vehicles subsidiary.

The Daimler spokesman refused to comment on reports that Cevian was aiming at taking a significant slice of the company’s capital, saying only that “every new investor is welcome.”

Last month the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily quoted an unidentified fund manager as saying that Cevian, which also owns stock in the Swedish group Volvo, had bought packets of Daimler shares.

According to Focus the fund now owns some 2.0 percent of Daimler. There are legal declaration levels of 3.0 and 5.0 percent.

The shares have fallen by 42 percent in the past year, making Daimler’s stock attractive to investors.

It is also spread among a multitude of shareholders, with only the Emirate of Kuwait’s holding of 7.6 percent exceeding the market’s lowest benchmark of 3.0 percent.

The head of the company works committee, Erich Klemm, said in a separate interview with the weekly Der Spiegel that he was worried about the reports of moves to break up the company.

Workers would put up massive resistance to such a move, he said, adding that selling the trucks division would severely weaken the group, which is a leader in the sector.