Rolled Over At Germany's Continental

The trans-Atlantic flight last June was hardly a pleasant one for Horst W. Urban, the chief executive officer of German tire giant Continental. He was on a troubleshooting trip to the U. S. to check up on ailing General Tire Inc., acquired by Continental in 1987. Flying with him was Ulrich Weiss, an executive board member at Deutsche Bank and also Conti board chairman. On the trip back to Germany, Weiss handed Urban a thin folder. It contained a bombshell, one that would touch off months of vicious boardroom battles and raise gut issues such as personal loyalty. The folder contained a draft proposal for a buyout by Italian tiremaker Pirelli, which wanted to double its market share. The events triggered by the Pirelli plan would eventually lead to the end of Urban's career at Conti.

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