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Cash payments aren't the only kind of dividends that Daimler shareholders have come to expect as a fight broke out between investors at the company's annual general meeting in Berlin.

General Motors has retained Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for "advice" on how to respond to activist investor Harry J. Wilson. He leads a group of four investment funds who want GM to spend $8 billion on a share buyback to raise its stock value, and he wants a seat on the board.

At the end of January GM said it would hold pat on its dividend of 30 cents per share, leading investors to complain. This week it said it would increase the dividend 20 percent, and later this year would look at "further return of capital to shareholders" assuming it can get the recall fiasco concluded.

Fiat S.p.A is a conglomerate divided into Fiat Autos and Fiat Industrial, the two combining to own or control well over 20 companies. The auto side includes Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati, Magnetti Marelli and Fiat Powertrain Technologies. The industrial side controls companies like Iveco and Case New Holland, the latter being the second largest producer of agricultural equipment in the world after Deere & Company.

Considering the sorry state of financial affairs that GM appears to be in, it seems extremely unsurprising that the board would like to see some big changes made at the very top of the company. What is a little shocking, though, is just how soundly the specific proposals were rejected. For instance, a proposal sponsored by John Chevedden of Redondo Beach, California, which would have given shareholders an annual advisory vote on executive compensation and pay, found less than 38-percent of voter

Two activist shareholder groups who work together in an attempt to force automakers to care about green issues - the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Investor Network on Climate Risk Network (which includes the Connecticut State Treasurer's office) - have backed off of Ford. The groups are pleased with Ford's announcement that details how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in the next dozen years. The groups had targeted FoMoCo for a shareholder resolution

The "merger" at DaimlerChrysler never really came off as a good idea. We put "merger" in quotation marks because no one ever really bought it as a marriage of equals, but saw it for what it always was: Daimler-Benz taking over Chrysler. Whatever way you spin it, though, it was never a match made in heaven. Lagging sales from Chrysler Group brands are a drain on the parent company's bottom line, and the US lost one of its Big 3 independent domestic carmakers.

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