“In view of the current political situation, we have … once again extensively reassessed this business relationship. As a result, we are restructuring our business activities with Iran,” chief executive Dieter Zetsche told a shareholders’ meeting.
In concrete terms, Daimler said this meant it would sell its 30-percent stake in the Iranian Diesel Engine Manufacturing company and withdraw an application to export commercial vehicles for civilian use to Iran.
“In general, our business activities with Iran will now be limited to meeting our existing contractual obligations and continuing our cooperation with established customers,” Zetsche said.
“I would like to take this opportunity to particularly stress that none of these measures are directed against the Iranian people. However, the policies of the current Iranian leadership have compelled us to put our business relationship with that country on a new footing,” he added.
Germany’s international partners have heaped on pressure for it to loosen its strong business ties with Iran amid concern about the Islamic republic’s nuclear activities, which the West suspects are aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
Germany’s two largest insurance companies, Allianz and Munich Re, said in February they would stop doing business in Iran, while industrial giant Siemens said in January that it too was pulling out.
But ties still remain strong. According to figures from the German statistics office, Germany exported €3.7 billion worth of goods to Iran in 2009, down from €4.0 billion in 2008.
In January, an Iranian industry official said in newspapers that Tehran had signed a €1-billion deal with an unnamed German firm to build 100 gas turbo-compressors.
Last month, exiled Iranian Nobel prize winner Shirn Ebadi accused Siemens and Finnish telecoms firm Nokia of supplying the Iranian government with technology to monitor cell phone calls.