MUNICH -- Daimler's annual meeting threatened to veer off course for a second year after a shareholder pontificated on his right to be naked.
Wilm Diedrich Mueller, well-known for pranking gatherings at companies ranging from Allianz to Bayer, used his allotted speaking time to criticize the board because he hadn’t been invited to appear in “species-appropriate attire.” In other words: without clothing.
“I’m grateful you didn’t already put into action your understanding of species-appropriate attire,” Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff responded. “My definition of species-appropriate attire and that of the broad majority of people here, is different than yours.”
German annual meetings can be freewheeling events as each shareholder has the right to pose questions to management. The opportunity is often used to air wide-ranging grievances that have nothing to do with the business at hand. Drawing serious and fringe activists seeking an audience, the affairs can drag late into the night. About 6,000 people attended Daimler’s gathering at Berlin’s CityCube convention center on Wednesday.
Last year, two Daimler shareholders battled at the buffet over complimentary sausages, diverting attention from record results at the world’s biggest luxury-car maker. Police were called to calm things down after one man began packing away multiple sausages. A woman intervened, and the two got into an argument.
Mueller, who describes himself as a 61-year-old entrepreneur from a small village on Germany’s northern coast, attends hundreds of shareholder meetings a year, according to local media. Some years ago he tried to persuade a publicly-listed liquor-maker to start making lubricants, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.