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Esser stakes defense
January 14, 2000: 8:46 a.m. ET

Mannesmann boss rejects Vodafone, will halve salary if he fails to boost stock
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LONDON (CNNfn) - Mannesmann chief executive Klaus Esser offered Friday to halve his salary, if his plan to boost the German company's stock price fails to bring the promised rewards.

Esser is fighting for his job in the face of the world's largest hostile takeover bid, from Britain's Vodafone AirTouch, worth $144 billion.

He presented the German firm's official defense against the all-stock offer Friday, and promised to halve his and his management's pay if Mannesmann stock doesn't reach 350 euros by December 2001.

Vodafone's offer is currently worth some 271 euros per share, and Mannesmann (FMMN) stock rose 4 percent to 249 euros Friday. Vodafone (VOD) gained 3 percent to 315 pence in London.


Esser's defense also included a commitment to consider floating the company's Internet activities, in a move designed to cash in on the booming popularity of such companies with European investors. Deutsche Telekom is mulling the flotation of its T-Online Internet access service, following the trailblazing performance of Terra Networks, spun off by Spain's Telefonica.

In an effort to dissuade investors from taking up Vodafone's offer, which expires Feb. 7, Esser repeated his claim that the British firm's offer undervalues his company and carries an unwarranted degree of risk.

The outcome of the battle is still too close to call, although Mannesmann shares have been inching closer to the offer price recently, indicating an increasing belief in the market that the bid will succeed. A number of influential brokerages and investor services have recently recommended their clients accept Vodafone's offer.

Vodafone, the world's largest cellular operator, hit back at Esser's claims Friday, saying there was nothing new in his defense strategy, and that the two companies would be much stronger if they worked together.

Mannesmann and Vodafone are partners in two key European cellular businesses: D2, Germany's most popular network, and Omnitel, Italy's second-largest cellular network. Back to top

-- from staff and wire reports


Mannesmann 1999 profits soar - Jan. 07 , 2000

Vodafone launches $138B Mannesmann bid - Dec. 23 , 1999


Vodafone AirTouch


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