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Investors confront Schrempp at annual meeting

DaimlerChrysler shareholders have criticized company executives at its annual meeting for the recent earnings slide and quality problems at its Mercedes division.

Jurgen Schrempp, DaimlerChrysler CEO, defended the company's performance but said it was determined to do better.

More than 8,000 investors at the meeting voted on the performance of DaimlerChrysler’s management. Despite some criticism, 95% of shareholders gave their vote of confidence to the board.

"Is it really useful to shoot yourself in the foot to prove you're a capable doctor?" asked Klaus Kaldemorgen of Deutsche Bank's fund management unit DWS, to applause from the auditorium at the Berlin Messe convention centre.

Others called for Schrempp, whose contract runs until 2008, to leave the company immediately. Schrempp said DaimlerChrysler was working to overcome the difficulties that saw earnings in the Mercedes division drop in the fourth quarter and led to a €1.2bn (£0.824bn) restructuring of the Smart compact car business, part of the Mercedes division.

At the meeting, DaimlerChrysler said sales at its Mercedes group rose 1.8% in March, reaching 117,500 units. Sales of its Mercedes brand fell 2.5% to 103,000 units.

The company's fourth-quarter net profit fell 63% to €526m (£386m) from €1.4bn (£0.96bn) in 2003.

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