Wednesday, August 1, 2007

THANKS AND SO LONG: Zetsche, LaSorda e-mail best wishes to U.S., German workers



DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche in effect said good-bye to Chrysler employees Friday.

In an early morning e-mail to Daimler and Chrysler employees, Zetsche and Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda thanked workers for their service and urged them to continue their relationship with Mercedes on future joint projects.

We'll soon embark on new and promising futures as two separate companies," the e-mail said.

DaimlerChrysler AG is nearing a final agreement to sell 80.1% of Chrysler to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

Daimler will keep 19.9% of the Auburn Hills automaker, and the two companies will share efforts on such projects as diesel engines.

Zetsche, who spent nearly five years as Chrysler CEO before becoming the head of DaimlerChrysler, has said the decision to sell Chrysler was personally difficult for him.

"We want to thank all of you for the hard work you've done as the DaimlerChrysler team over the past nine years. In the future, we'll once again be two independent teams -- two strong business partners that work together to leverage their combined resources, expertise and economies of scale to their mutual advantage," the e-mail read.

"We look forward to this new beginning and to continuing to drive the future success of both of our companies."

The e-mail went out to all DaimlerChrysler workers in the United States and Germany.

"The list of our ongoing joint programs is critical to the future success of our companies," Zetsche and LaSorda wrote. "We urge you to continue to give them your full support."

Zetsche and LaSorda said the two companies will continue developing common electrical components, vehicle architectures for unibody SUVs and powertrain technologies, including diesel, hybrid and fuel cells.

LaSorda is expected to remain as Chrysler CEO even as Cerberus is expected to make former Chrysler executive Wolfgang Bernhard chairman of the automaker's board.

Bernhard was chief operating officer during the last Chrysler turnaround in 2001 when Zetsche was Chrysler CEO. Bernhard went on to a brief stint as head of Mercedes, then Volkswagen, where he was ousted earlier this year in a leadership change.

"The 'New Chrysler,' as the first major privately held North American automaker in more than one-half of a century, will continue to sharply focus on the Recovery and Transformation Plan, its blueprint for returning to profitability and changing its business model to ensure long-term competitiveness," the e-mail said.

"With a wealth of innovative new vehicles in its showrooms and product pipeline, we're confident that Chrysler will emerge as an agile and profitable competitor in its NAFTA stronghold and will accelerate its growth in volume segments worldwide."

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