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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 02-11-2008, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Analysts see clouds for Chrysler

I was afraid of this. Three years is not long enough for a turn-around. Especially with Nardelli running the show. Maybe Nissan will buy Chrysler. That's what most of the rumors point to.

From the Detroit Insider:

Saturday, February 9, 2008
Analysts see clouds for Chrysler
It's 'not viable' as stand-alone company, former CFO says.

Eric Morath / The Detroit News

CHICAGO -- Chrysler LLC owner Cerberus Capital Management LP likely is developing alternative plans for the company's future, two auto industry veterans with ties to Chrysler and Cerberus said Friday.

Cerberus likely will merge Chrysler with another foreign partner, Jerome York, Chrysler's former chief financial officer, said during an automotive conference. Chrysler as "a stand-alone company is not viable," he said.

Kathleen Ligocki, another industry veteran who has worked with Cerberus, said the private equity firm likely has two plans for Chrysler: turn it around with improved products, better efficiency and stronger global alliances; or break it up and sell assets such as the Jeep brand. She said Cerberus likely will look for results in three years or less.

Chrysler officials say the automaker is focused on the long term and is flexible enough to act on opportunities to build a sustainable company. York, who is CEO of Harwinton Capital LLC, a private investment firm and an adviser to financier Kirk Kerkorian, said Chrysler must grow or acquire a presence in fast-growing countries, such as India and China, he said.

From 2007 to 2013, Chrysler's global production is projected to fall more than 4 percent, the most of any automaker, according to CSM Worldwide. The average growth for nearly every other automaker is expected to be 3.9 percent. Chrysler now has virtually no sales in the world's fastest-growing markets.

If a global alliance merger doesn't happen, breaking up the company would be more difficult than some predict, York said.

Intertwined manufacturing, engineering and sales operations make it nearly impossible for any single brand to be spun off, and the company has few non-automotive assets.

Ligocki is now an independent consultant after serving as chief executive of auto supplier Tower Automotive. She left Tower after Cerberus financing allowed the Novi supplier to exit bankruptcy last year. Cerberus still controls Tower.

If they are successful with turnaround plans, "they'll create enough value and make a profit for investors," she said. "If not, they would have to see if they could unlock value by selling Chrysler off in parts."

She said Chrysler Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli bring an "investment mentality," and won't wait long to make bold moves, if they don't see results.
Cerberus has addressed Chrysler's labor and legacy costs, and is now working to tighten up its dealer network. Those actions will make the company more attractive to sell, possibly to a Chinese or Indian company, she said.

Chrysler spokesman David Barnas said the company is confident that it will recover. He said the addition of several top executives from other automakers is evidence of Chrysler's viability.

"The company has proven time and again that it is a survivor," he said, noting that the automaker has been exceeding its business and financial targets since Cerberus acquired it.

A Cerberus spokesman said the firm remains "extremely enthusiastic about our investment in Chrysler. Under the leadership of Bob Nardelli, Tom LaSorda and Jim Press, Chrysler is already on track to exceed its multi-year restructuring and recovery plan on virtually all key metrics. We are confident that Bob, Jim and Tom are taking the right steps to bring Chrysler to profitability. Our mutual resolve to restore Chrysler to its leadership position as an iconic brand is unwavering.
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