Daimler CEO says open to new growth options, has talked to rivals

FRANKFURT Fri Feb 7, 2014 7:06am EST

Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz cars Dieter Zetsche sits in C220 Bluetec during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz cars Dieter Zetsche sits in C220 Bluetec during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler (DAIGn.DE) is open to new ways of growing its business and has talked in the past to Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE) and Fiat (FIA.MI) about developing a common small car platform, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said.

"When we were planning the current generation of front-wheel drive vehicles we were entertaining a number of discussions with BMW, with Fiat, with VW to check whether it makes sense to do something together," Zetsche said on an analyst call on Friday.

Eventually, Daimler concluded that there was not much to be gained from working with any of these rivals. The benefits from working with a competitor were only marginal, he said.

When asked whether he was happy to leave Daimler's existing strategy broadly unchanged, rather than considering more radical steps during the remainder of his term in office, Zetsche signaled he was open to considering broader strategic steps.

"If we were to just continue to do our homework, and not develop more elements going forward, we definitely would fall back," Zetsche, whose term runs until 2016, explained, adding he was currently satisfied with Daimler's existing businesses.

"A very significant part of our task is strategic and to see what kind of future challenges will develop and what opportunities we see on the horizon, and try to further develop our business," the 60-year old German explained.

"This is not the meeting today where we would announce further building blocks of the further development of our company, but of course there will be times when we will do that."

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter)

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