BERLIN (Reuters) - Disgruntled investors blasted DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Juergen Schrempp and top managers on Wednesday for what they called poor performance and shoddy leadership at the world's fifth-biggest carmaker.
At a marathon annual meeting, shareholders lined up to complain about a series of problems capped last week by the automaker's biggest-ever car recall and news of hefty charges to restructure its loss-making Smart minicar brand.
"Shareholders' patience is exhausted," said Klaus Kaldemorgen from German fund manager DWS, scoffing at Schrempp's self-proclaimed ability to master difficult situations.
"Do you have to shoot yourself in the foot first to provide first aid?" he asked, complaining that the company had thoughtlessly put its flagship Mercedes brand at risk by letting quality lag badly.
"Playing down results seems to have become part of the corporate culture," he said to applause.
"The problems at Mercedes and Smart suggest serious management mistakes," said Thomas Maier at Union Investment, Germany's third-biggest asset manager and administrator of DaimlerChrysler shares worth 500 million euros ($644 million).
He also pointed out that DaimlerChrysler shares had lagged the performance of German blue chips and carmaking rivals over the past five years, something for which top management had to take responsibility