In Business This Week: HEADLINER: KIRK KERKORIAN
IF YOU CAN ASSEMBLE A BETTER BOARD...
He's not in the driver's seat, but Kirk Kerkorian surely is helping to steer Chrysler. A Nov. 20 summit between Kerkorian and Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton included a new face: long-time Chrysler director Robert Lanigan. It marked the first time that Kerkorian and top aide Jerome York could make their case for change at the auto maker to an outside board member.
Kerkorian, owner of a 14% stake in Chrysler, believes he can sway outside directors to do what Eaton won't--share Chrysler's cash hoard with stockholders. Now, Eaton will bring outside directors to meetings with other big investors. That plays into Kerkorian's plan to get York on the board via a proxy fight: The former Chrysler CFO, he believes, will shine next to the current board.
Ultimately, Kerkorian wants York and two other independent directors on Chrysler's board; on Nov. 20, he said he wants former Kmart chairman Joseph Antonini to give up his seat. For the moment, the pressure is on Eaton to persuade investors to maintain the status quo.EDITED BY KEITH H. HAMMONDS By Bill Vlasic