Shareholders of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. approved a plan Tuesday to have on the company’s board of directors three people appointed by DaimlerChrysler AG, which is to become Mitsubishi Motors’ main shareholder.
The three are Steven A. Torok, Ulrich Walker and Manfred Bischoff, according to a Mitsubishi official.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shareholders were holding their first meeting since the company announced in March that German-U.S. automaker DaimlerChrysler will buy a 34 percent equity stake in the firm as part of a business collaboration deal.
The purchase of the stake is currently awaiting approval by European Union antitrust authorities.
Mitsubishi also announced Tuesday that it will reorganize its North American operations to speed up the decision-making process and raise efficiency.
It will set up a supervisory unit to oversee Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. and Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. The two companies are currently under Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s Tokyo-based Office of North American Car Operations.
Volvo deal reinforced
Despite its capital tieup with DaimlerChrysler AG, Mitsubishi Motor Corp. will reinforce its cooperation with Sweden’s AB Volvo in developing trucks to better compete with the newly created alliance of DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai Motor Co. in Asia’s truck market, Mitsubishi Motors President Katsuhiko Kawasoe said Tuesday.
“MMC and DaimlerChrysler have agreed to jointly produce and market passenger vehicles, but we have a nonintervention policy on each other’s truck businesses,” Kawasoe told reporters after the firm’s annual general shareholders’ meeting. “So we are rivals in the truck market.”
Mitsubishi Motors agreed in March to a capital tieup with DaimlerChrysler, with the German-U.S. auto giant to hold a 34 percent stake in the Japanese carmaker. As for the manufacturing and sale of buses and trucks, Mitsubishi Motors is planning to set up a company with Volvo next year.
On Monday, DaimlerChrysler announced a capital tieup with South Korea’s Hyundai to develop trucks and other commercial vehicles.
Kawasoe said the rivalry between Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler in the truck business may cause friction in the partnership.
“MMC will make fair decisions in allocating funds for our car business and truck and bus business. But there is a possibility that DaimlerChrysler may try to influence our decision making (so that we won’t make business decisions in favor of Volvo),” he said. “To prevent such problems, MMC will spin off its bus and truck business.”
Under Japanese law, having at least a 33.4 percent stake in a firm gives a shareholder the right to veto proposals concerning company management.
Kawasoe also said that Mitsubishi Motors will jointly develop a new small car with DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has a 1.37 percent stake in the South Korean carmaker and provides technology and components.