February 1998: Eaton advises the Chrysler board that he has had discussions with Daimler, and the board agrees to keep talking.
Eaton and Chrysler CFO Gary Valade fly to Geneva, where Eaton lists two nonnegotiable conditions: Any deal has to be a merger of equals, and Chrysler shareholders must receive a premium over the current stock value. "Of course we will be equals," Schrempp says.
Negotiations begin in Manhattan. Chrysler officials identify $1 billion in possible cost cuts as part of a merger. The companies agree to hire law firms to work on the deal and use the code-name Project Gamma, referring to Chrysler as "Cleveland" and Daimler as "Denver."
March 1998: Eaton and Valade meet with Schrempp and Daimler executive Eckhard Cordes during the Geneva auto show. Eaton agrees to incorporate the merged company in Germany and, in exchange, suggests the name ChryslerDaimler-Benz, which Schrempp says he will consider. They agree to have dual headquarters in Stuttgart and Auburn Hills, Mich., and Eaton says he will step down within three years after the merger is completed.
Chrysler executives go to London for a meeting with Daimler executives to share product plans and discuss a valuation for Chrysler.
April 1998: Chrysler's board considers the proposed merger.
At a meeting in London, Eaton threatens to call the deal off unless Daimler agrees to a larger valuation for Chrysler than Schrempp has proposed. Eaton and Schrempp strike a deal in principle to give Chrysler shareholders a 28 percent premium.
Daimler Supervisory Board Chairman Hilmar Kopper signs off on the deal.
Trotman tells Schrempp that the Ford family won't support a merger with Daimler and suggests that Chrysler "would be the perfect fit for you."
Schrempp and Eaton set early May as the time frame to announce the merger, and Eaton chooses Stallkamp to be president of the new company.
May 3, 1998: The Daimler Board of Management meets for final deliberations on the merger. Eaton threatens to call off the merger again over unresolved issues raised by Daimler.
May 5, 1998: Chrysler executives agree to the name "DaimlerChrysler" after Schrempp threatens to call the deal off. Chrysler's board unanimously approves the deal.
May 6, 1998: Chrysler confirms talks with Daimler-Benz after a Wall Street Journal report about the potential merger. Deutsche Bank, Daimler's largest shareholder, agrees to support the deal. Kerkorian signs a letter in support of the merger. Chrysler and Daimler sign the $36 billion merger agreement in London.
May 7, 1998: The companies announce at 7 a.m. London time (2 a.m. in Detroit) that they have agreed "to form the leading global automotive company." The news release says no plant closures or layoffs are planned and, in the opening paragraph, declares the transaction to be "a merger of equals" between "two of the world's most profitable car manufacturers." The new company would have 442,000 employees and a market cap of nearly $100 billion.
May 9, 1998: At a press conference, Eaton says, "This is a merger of equals. That's the way the company will be run."
May 14, 1998: The Daimler-Benz Supervisory Board agrees to the merger.
June 1998: Daimler's management team visits Auburn Hills, and the Chrysler management team visits Stuttgart a week later.
July 1998: Lutz retires from Chrysler.
August 1998: The 18 executives who will be members of DaimlerChrysler's new management board meet at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia to finalize merger details.
September 1998: Chrysler shareholders approve the merger with 97.5 percent approval. Daimler-Benz shareholders give the merger 99.9 percent approval.
November 1998: "Day One": DaimlerChrysler stock begins trading on Nov. 17 under the ticker symbol DCX.