Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cerberus' advantages felt already, Chrysler exec says

August 9, 2007

TRAVERSE CITY -- Chrysler executives are already seeing dramatic changes under the leadership of its new owner Cerberus Capital Management, said Frank Klegon, Chrysler executive vice president of product development, on Thursday.

Under private equity firm Cerberus' ownership, Chrysler is the first major North American automaker to be privately owned in the past 50 years, something Chrysler and Cerberus officials routinely have said would give the company advantagesThis is a status that will result in real advantages as we go forward -- the most significant being an ability to bring more of our resources to bear on the business of the business," Klegon said at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars.

Cerberus acquired 80.1% of Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler AG in a deal that was concluded last week.

"As a private company we're able to make decisions more quickly and thus move faster to respond to the market," Klegon added.

He noted that after the deal was announced in May, Chrysler needed to get approval from Cerberus on nine projects, such as a new engine plant and the deal with Chery Automotive Co. to build small cars that will be sold under a Chrysler brand nameplate.

"Within 36 hours, all nine projects were approved," Klegon said.

Klegon said this is a period of reinvention for Chrysler. "Along the way we've had more comebacks than Sylvester Stallone playing Rocky," Klegon said. "Come to think of it, we've also had our nose bloodied a few times as well."

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