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Global auto news this week(2007.05.21 - 2007.05.25)

From| May 26,2007

Cerberus overtook Chrysler and seven major North American banks and investment banks have agreed to raise the $62 billion needed to refinance the debt and recapitalize Chrysler Group.  The focus of media finally has a happy ending. There are also news related with other big automakers, e.g. Ford, Honda, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.

The hot news this week are as follows:

Cerberus secures $62B refinancing for Chrysler 
From:detnews May 21 2007 
Cerberus Capital Management on Friday said seven major North American banks and investment banks have agreed to raise the $62 billion needed to refinance the debt and recapitalize Chrysler Group.

The New York-based private equity firm announced on Monday it would acquire the U.S. automaker from Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG for $7.4 billion. But Cerberus revealed little else about how it would finance the takeover.

The mix of financing will include securities backed by the Chrysler's automobile assets, high-yield corporate debt, and bank loans, said Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda. Leading the financing is JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns Cos., Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada.

Some $50 billion of proceeds will be used to refinance debt at Chrysler's financing unit. The amount will be the largest refinanced by a private equity firm, according to financial data tracker Dealogic.


Visteon shares rise on talk that overseas firms will buy large stake 
From:detnews  May 22 2007 
Visteon Corp. shares rose as much as 12 percent, the most in nine months, after a report that a joint venture of India's Tata AutoComp Systems Ltd. and France's Valeo SA may buy a stake in the auto-parts maker, Bloomberg News reported today.

The Business Standard newspaper in India said today that the Tata Group unit and Valeo may spend as much as $2 billion on the purchase, citing people it didn't identify. The newspaper didn't give a number of shares or percentage size of the stake.

Visteon shares rose 72 cents to $8.74 at 10:33 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, after reaching $9. A 12 percent increase would be the stock's biggest daily gain since Aug. 3.

Ford has low rate for updating its 2008-11 vehicles, forecast shows 
From:freep May 23 2007 
Last year, Ford Motor Co. said it would revamp its entire lineup of Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles by 2010 in an effort to win over consumers and become profitable again.

But Ford still placed last among major automakers in its projected product replacement rate through 2011, according to the annual Car Wars report for 2008-11 from Merrill Lynch.

The brokerage firm said Ford would replace 57% of its product between 2008 and 2011 with entirely new models or next generations of existing models.

Merrill Lynch's annual analysis suggests there is a strong correlation between the percentage of new models and how much market share an automaker gains or loses, with the freshest lineups doing the best.

The industry average for replacing vehicles is 67% in this year's report, with Honda and DaimlerChrysler leading the industry in revamping its models. While Toyota performed exactly in line with the industry average, General Motors Corp. and Nissan placed just below that, with replacement rates of 66% and 63%, respectively.


PSA/Peugeot-Citroen to cut fixed costs by 30 percent 
From:Reuters May 24 2007 
PSA/Peugeot Citroen unveiled plans today to slash its fixed costs by almost a third to boost profitability and regain market share while trying to avoid new job cuts.

CEO Christian Streiff outlined plans to save 30 percent of fixed costs as European carmakers battle to improve efficiency in the face of stiff competition, particularly from Asia.

The shares fell by 5 percent in afternoon trade, after initial gains, as some investors took profits once the price hit a year high and analysts said the group remained vague on details.

"The fall is exaggerated," said analyst Georges Dieng at Ixis. "Streiff still needs time to come with a full plan."

PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, which trails Volkswagen AG in sales in Europe, plans to launch several new models by 2010, bringing the total of new models to 41.

Euro factor stalls Honda plant 
From:Financial Times May 25 2007 
Honda's Swindon car plant will not receive another big investment because Britain's refusal to join the euro has created too much currency uncertainty, Takeo Fukui, president of the Japanese car group, told the Financial Times.

The company would not expand the capacity of the plant until currency risk was eliminated, Mr Fukui said. But he said Honda had no plans to write off its existing investment and shut the UK plant, which supplies the European market.

His comments will nevertheless raise questions on the long-term future of the plant, given the UK has no plans to join the euro in the foreseeable future.

Honda will in future also be more able to supply the European market from its expanding factory in Turkey.

On past investment in Swindon, Mr Fukui said: "We made a mistake. We thought the UK was in Europe but its reluctance to join the euro is a big problem."

He criticised government ministers who had held out the hope of joining the euro. He now recognises these were empty words.

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