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...wrangle over Iraq

AFX News Limited - May 15, 2003

MUNICH (AFX) - Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's sales in the US have so far not been negatively affected by the political differences between the US and Germany over Iraq, even though the issue has been a burden for German companies doing business in the US, management board chairman Helmut Panke told the AGM.

"You've touched on a major issue - the political differences between Germany and the US and whether or not these are impacting on our business in the US," Panke said in response to questions from shareholders.

Germany opposed the US military action in Iraq and is now trying to mend relations with the US government.

Panke said first quarter unit sales for the BMW group in the US were above those in the year-earlier. "Also for the BMW brand, we were higher in the USA in the first quarter," he added.

"In the first quarter of 2003, we are the leader in the luxury performance segment in the USA...BMW is ahead of Lexus, ahead of Mercedes(-Benz)," he said, adding that the company has so far "not felt" the issue has had an impact at all.

Panke also disclosed he had discussions with the US ambassador to Germany "several weeks ago" on the issue and tomorrow, he along with a small group of German business leaders will discuss with US state secretary Colin Powell on how to resolve "this conflict".

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