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Report: Chrysler execs host private-equity groups

From Reuters| March 09,2007

Top managers at the Chrysler group hosted two private-equity funds this week as the struggling automaker considers possible bids, the Detroit News reported today.

Representatives from the Blackstone Group on Wednesday, March 7, toured Chrysler's technical center in Auburn Hills, Mich., met with Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda and dined with his executive team, the newspaper said.

Representatives of Cerberus Capital Management met with the automaker's top management earlier this week and got the same treatment, the newspaper said.

A Chrysler group spokesman declined to comment.

The Cerberus executives spent Monday, March 5, and part of Tuesday, March 6, at Chrysler. They met first with LaSorda, who provided an overview of Chrysler's operations and its competitive position in the United States and international markets, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the briefings.

Other presentations were made by Eric Ridenour, Chrysler's chief operating officer, manufacturing head Frank Ewasyshin and Chief Designer Trevor Creed, the newspaper said.

The Cerberus group was also shown several upcoming products, including the prototype for the redesigned Ram pickup due out next year.

The Blackstone contingent's two-day visit was led by Neil Simpkins, a senior managing director, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the team. Blackstone officials will visit other Chrysler operations today before leaving, the paper said.

DaimlerChrysler said on Feb. 14 that the German company was keeping all options open for Chrysler, which lost $1.48 billion last year as sales slumped and inventories rose.

Chrysler has announced plans to cut some 13,000 jobs, or about 16 percent of its work force, in a bid to return to profitability by 2008.

In addition to private equity firms, Chrysler has attracted interest from General Motors, according to people familiar with the bidding process.

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