Would-be investors with an eye to acquireGroup from DaimlerChrysler AG, will not have to wait long for a prospectus. Distribution is imminent, a source confirms for Ward’s.
In the wake of’s $1.4 billion full-year loss in 2006, Dieter Zetsche, DaimlerChrysler chairman and former Chrysler CEO, has said all options are on the table. He did not preclude selling Chrysler.
In a move that has been well-received by DC shareholders in Germany, where Chrysler is regarded as a perennial drain, investment house JP Morgan has been brought in to explore the auto maker’s alternatives. But the consultant is mum.
“We are giving absolutely no comment,” a spokeswoman says.
Reeling from an avalanche of speculative reports on the future of Chrysler, the auto maker and the United Auto Workers union wage separate struggles in the wake of the Feb. 14 unveiling of Chrysler’s restructuring strategy.
Chrysler President and CEO Tom LaSorda uses a mass email exhorting employees to ignore hearsay about takeover scenarios involvingCorp., Motor Co. Ltd., Renault SA and AG. Such stories, he suggests, threaten progress of the initiative, which promises a return to profitability by next year through an aggressive product plan, 13,000 job cuts and a capacity reduction of 400,000 units annually.
“Our job is very clear,” LaSorda writes. “Our mission is to produce great cars and trucks, to take care of our customers and to restore profitability. Whatever fork in the road we may take, we first have to make sure we’re on the road – and the Recovery and Transformation Plan is that road.”
He promised further information on voluntary separation and early retirement programs would be forthcoming, and on Feb. 23 the auto maker released details for non-unionized salaried workers in a bid to eliminate 1,000 positions by June 30.
Affected management employees will receive specific details of packages in May and June.
Generally, all salaried workers age 53 to 61 with at least 10 years’ service and who earn less than $100,000, and some who exceed that cap, will receive offers June 4, to be returned by June 29.
White-collar workers age 62 and older with 10 years’ service will be offered three months’ salary and a $20,000 car voucher or $20,000 contribution to the Retirement Health Care Account.
Retirement benefits will not be reduced for leaving early, and these employees quality for full medical benefit credits.
Similar programs are being finalized for salaried workers represented by union.
As for hourly workers, a settlement reached Feb. 15 with the Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents about 2,000 hourly employees who will be affected by restructuring, is undermining UAW efforts to overturn Chrysler’s decision to idle, by 2009, its assembly plant in Newark, DE.
The UAW is “being bombarded about the buyout and the retirement packages,” says Richard McDonaugh Jr., president of UAW Local 1183, which represents Newark workers.
“In my opinion, (CAW President Buzz Hargrove) just folded,” McDonaugh says. “He didn’t fight for his people like the UAW is. We’re not talking about buyouts, we’re talking about new products.”
Part of Chrysler’s plan involves the introduction of 20 new and 13 refreshed products.
“I intend on having some of those vehicles built here at Newark Assembly after 2009,” McDonaugh says, noting the plant once manufactured five cars simultaneously – and that was prior to Chrysler’s adoption of flexible manufacturing processes.
Currently home to the slow-selling Dodge Durango fullsize SUV, Newark once built the Dodge Spirit, Plymouth Acclaim, Chrysler Concorde, Chrysler LeBaron convertible and Dodge Intrepid.
“All reports are still saying that Newark Assembly’s going to close in 2009,” McDonaugh says. “There’s a difference between ‘idle’ and ‘close.’ Our workers at Newark Assembly are disgruntled with all the media reports.”
On the prospect of acquiring Chrysler,, and all have declared themselves out of the running. GM confirms it has had talks with Chrysler, but the scope of the discussions has not been confirmed.
The consensus among analysts suggests neither auto maker would benefit from a tie-up. But Citigroup describes GM has a “natural” candidate to acquire Chrysler.
“GM could create significant value through an acquisition of Chrysler,” says a Citigroup research note. “Other suitors likely would not get the same cost-savings opportunities from the UAW. In addition, GM could rationalize its product line with Chrysler’s to optimize capacity utilization, model offerings and the dealer footprint.”
At least four private equity groups reportedly have been in preliminary talks with DC about buying Chrysler and could emerge as bidders. Apollo Management LP, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital Management LP are said to have been contacted.
Mega-supplierInternational has been mentioned among the “other suitors,” but it declines comment.
Based in Canada,has contracts with Chrysler and other auto makers to build vehicles in Europe. But it has no vehicle-assembly capacity in North America, something it has coveted for several years.
But, a KeyBanc report pours water on a Magna deal.
“A large portion (i.e., roughly 39%) of (Magna’s) revenue is withand , “ the report says. “If (Magna) were to acquire Chrysler, it would strategically reposition the company from being a supplier to direct competitor to General Motors and Ford. Neither would view this positively, which would likely result in a loss of business over time. This is a significant risk, in our opinion.”