Daimler shares slide on U.S. emissions investigation

Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:10am EDT
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By Edward Taylor and David Shepardson

FRANKFURT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote) shares fell more than five percent on Friday, hit by news that the United States Department of Justice had asked the carmaker to investigate its emissions certification process for vehicles including its Mercedes brand.

The investigation comes six months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it would review diesel vehicles following an admission from Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) that it installed software in cars allowing them to emit up to 40 times legally permissible level of pollution.

Daimler Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber declined to elaborate on what prompted the investigation when the company published earnings for the first three months of the year on Friday.

"We cannot go into details," Uebber told reporters as Daimler said first-quarter operating profit fell 9 percent as launch costs for its new E-Class and currency effects weighed down results.

Daimler had said on Thursday that it was cooperating with the U.S. authorities.

"Daimler will consequently investigate possible indications of irregularities and of course take all necessary actions," the company said.

Analysts said they were surprised that the Department of Justice (DOJ) appears to be acting alone. In the Volkswagen case, the DOJ worked together with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

"There might have been an issue in the US certification process but again, surprising to us that the DOJ is stepping ahead without mentioning the EPA or CARB in our view," analysts at Evercore ISI said in a note on Friday.   Continued...

A Daimler sign name is pictured during the company's annual news conference in Stuttgart, Germany, February 4, 2016.      REUTERS/Michaela Rehle