Conti 2006: John Sellers

Continental AGM, May 5th, 2006, Hannover:

My name is John Sellers. I am a recently retired executive vice president of the United Steelworkers and the former chief officer for our union's 70,000 members in the tire and rubber industry. I negotiated the prior collective bargaining agreement for our members employed by Continental AG.  

The USW is a shareholder of Continental AG but we never received our proxy material, so I am here on the proxy of the Association of Critical Shareholders in Germany. I want to thank Critical Shareholders for obtaining this proxy which allows me to speak to our shareholders. In the interest of time, I am asking our translator, Ursel Reineke, to translate my questions.

Specifically, don't you believe that shareholders should have a right to know why
management has failed, in North America, the largest tire market in the world?
Why hasn't management implemented the following to increase shareholder value
in the long-run:

  • A research and development center to produce cutting edge products in comparison to our competitors?
  • Significant capital investments to make North American plants competitive with other major producers?
  • A marketing and advertising strategy to improve consumer awareness of Continental and General Tire brands which are only marginally known in comparison to the major competitors?
  • A distribution network to sell replacement tires in comparison to our major competitors?
  • An emphasis on producing more profitable "replacement" tires in comparison to over-concentration by Conti management on the less profitable "original equipment market?

How much money has our company and shareholders lost in North America due to management's weak perfromance?

Given your recently implemented proposal in Charlotte to dramatically cut wages by nearly 20 % and retiree benefits and thereby make war on the largest industrial union in North America, how will management counter a protracted consumer campaign supported by 14 million union members and organizations comprising another 20 million consumers to portray Conti in a highly negative light?

Can management provide shareholders with an estimate of losses caused by an effective boycott in North America of Continental Tire products?

Finally, why don't you and our North American managers show leadership by taking the cuts similar to the cuts to workers that management has implemented in Charlotte and intends to implement throughout North America to produce savings and shareholder value?

Continental AGM 2006

Continental in gerneral

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