Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chery revisits Chrysler deal

Associated Press

FRANKFURT -- Chery, the Chinese auto maker that DaimlerChrysler AG formed a limited partnership with to build Chrysler-branded cars, wants to re-examine the deal in light of the sale to Cerberus, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Zhang Li, the general manager of Chery Automobile Co. Ltd., told the German financial daily Handelsblatt that the company has halted the project and wants to renegotiate its agreement on building a new compact for Chrysler.

The decision, the paper reported, came after DaimlerChrysler agreed last week to sell its money-losing Chrysler Group to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP in a $7.4-billion (U.S.) deal.

Mr. Zhang said the deal came as a "total surprise" and the company had not yet talked with Cerberus about it.

"We continue to be in talks with Chrysler, but we don't have any contact with the new owners yet," Handelsblatt quoted Mr. Zhang as saying.

A message seeking comment was left yesterday at Cerberus.

Mary Gauthier, a spokeswoman for the German-American auto maker in Stuttgart, said global growth remained an important aspect of Chrysler's transformation and recovery plan, adding that the sale to Cerberus had not changed those goals.

The deal unravelled a 1998 combination that attempted to create a global automotive powerhouse. The future Daimler AG will retain a 19.9-per-cent stake in Chrysler.

Analysts say the German company will do much better when it sheds most of its American arm, which is expected in the third quarter.

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