Friday, June 1, 2007

Top exec Thursfield may leave Cerberu

Ford / Ford Europe/Wieck

David Thursfield joined Cerberus in 2004 after retiring from Ford. See full image

The Detroit News

David Thursfield, the head of Cerberus Capital Management LP's auto group, may be leaving the private equity giant, just weeks after the company agreed to purchase the Chrysler Group from DaimlerChrysler AG, three people familiar with the situation told The Detroit News.

Thursfield, the cigar-chomping, no-nonsense former head of Ford Europe and the automaker's global purchasing division, joined Cerberus in May 2004 after retiring from the Dearborn automaker.

Reached at his home in London late Thursday, Thursfield would neither confirm nor deny that he was leaving Cerberus. Cerberus spokeswoman J.J. Rissi also declined to comment on Thursfield's status.

Cerberus agreed last month to purchase 80.1 percent of Chrysler in a $7.4 billion transaction expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Thursfield, 61, was not involved in that deal, in part because his severance agreement with Ford, which governs his pension, doesn't allow him to work for another auto manufacturer, people familiar with the situation told The News.

But Thursfield was a key player in Cerberus' unsuccessful bid to purchase a major stake in bankrupt Troy-based supplier Delphi Corp. Thursfield was involved in complex talks with Delphi, its former parent General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers in an effort to work out a labor agreement. Ultimately, Cerberus dropped out of the deal over disagreements about the supplier's value.

Thursfield also is executive chairman and interim CEO of one of Cerberus' auto suppliers, Farmington Hills-based GDX Automotive, a position he has held since August 2005.

In April, The Detroit News reported that GDX was in financial turmoil and telling its major customers that the company may be broken up or sold.

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