Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

DAIMLER-BENZ'S acquisition of Dornier has been labeled "...the most miserable contract we have ever completed" in a fierce written attack on retired Daimler-Benz president Edzard Reuter by the company's former finance director.

Gerhard Liener wrote a 76-page diatribe against Reuter after quitting the finance director's post, which he left on 24 May at the same time as his former boss retired.

Reuter's successor, ex-Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) chief Jurgen Schrempp, kept Liener on as an advisor on international activities. This contract, which was to run until the end of 1997, has now been terminated following the leaking of extracts of Liener's ruthless personal and professional critique of Reuter in the German press.

Liener claims that, at the time of the initial negotiations between Reuter and the Dornier family over the acquisition of a stake in the aerospace company, Daimler-Benz supervisory board member Gunter Vogelsang warned that parts of Dornier's business were dangerous for the company.

According to Liener, Reuter assured then-Daimler president Werner Breitschwerdt that Daimler would not move into aircraft manufacture, and this part of Dornier's business would quickly be shed. This turned out to be impossible under the terms of the contract between the companies.

In the end, Dornier "...took Reuter to the cleaners", says Liener, in a deal which cost the Stuttgart-based industrial giant DM440 million ($200 million) and left the Dornier family with the right to veto any major business decisions.

When Reuter, after taking charge of Daimler, wanted to acquire former Dornier rival MBB, to build up what later became DASA, Daimler-Benz once more had to pay excessively to ensure that the Dornier shareholders could not hinder the deal.

The Dornier family represented in the "murderous negotiations" by lawyer Martine Dornier-Tiefenthaler, forced Daimler to pay a further DM570 million - as well as Dornier-Tiefenthaler's DM10 million fees - to obtain industrial control of the company.

Liener adds that the Dornier family, with its minority stake in the company, is still capable of interfering in the business and has been receiving guaranteed dividends from Daimler for ten years, while Dornier remains in the red.

Source: Flight International