U.S. gov't, Fiat to name Chrysler board on alliance, Nardelli says

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Jim Higgins, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. Jim Higgins

    Jim Higgins Guest

    U.S. gov't, Fiat to name Chrysler board on alliance, Nardelli says

    Automotive News
    April 17, 2009 - 2:46 am ET

    DETROIT (Reuters) -- Chrysler would cede control of its board and
    ultimately senior leadership if it completes a planned alliance with
    Italy's Fiat SpA, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said.

    The U.S. government and Fiat would appoint a board of directors for
    Chrysler, with a majority of them independent directors who are not
    employees of either automaker, Nardelli said in an internal memo to
    workers obtained by Reuters.

    "The board will have the responsibility to appoint a chairman," Nardelli
    said. "The board also will select a CEO with Fiat's concurrence."

    That could mean the end of Nardelli's tenure at Chrysler, where he was
    named chairman and CEO in 2007 shortly after Cerberus Capital Management
    acquired its 80.1 percent stake in the automaker from Daimler AG.

    Chrysler and Fiat have been in talks to complete a partnership by the
    end of April to meet the requirements of U.S. government emergency aid
    and avoid a bankruptcy filing.

    The U.S. autos taskforce rejected Chrysler's turnaround plan in late
    March and gave the company until the end of April to cement the Fiat
    alliance and reach agreements with its unions to slash labor costs and
    with its lenders to cut debt.

    "Fiat strongly believes in the mutual benefits the alliance would create
    for both of our companies, our customers, employees and other
    constituents," Nardelli said.

    "We continue to review the status of all stakeholder discussions with
    Fiat, as the achievement of concessions is a condition of the alliance,"
    he said.

    The deal with Fiat hinges on Chrysler securing concessions from unions
    in the U.S. and Canada, as well as agreement with those who hold
    Chrysler's first-lien loans, which includes a group led by JPMorgan
    Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.

    Chrysler has about $7 billion of first-lien loans that stem from its
    breakaway from Daimler in 2007, and the creditor group had been asked
    initially to accept a steep reduction. Daimler still holds a stake of
    nearly 20 percent in Chrysler.

    The U.S. Treasury has met regularly with the group, which has been asked
    "to make significant additional concessions," Nardelli said.

    The U.S. Treasury has extended a concessions proposal to the group,
    which is expected to respond to the offer shortly, Nardelli added.

    Sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week that
    Chrysler's first-lien lenders were preparing a counter-offer for the
    Treasury that might include equity in a Chrysler-Fiat alliance and some
    cash in exchange for abandoning their claim to some $7 billion of debt.

    The lenders were responding two weeks after the creditors rejected a
    request from the Treasury to write off $6 billion of the amount they are
    owed, the sources said.

    Chrysler is also in talks with the United Auto Workers union to
    restructure its union-aligned retiree healthcare trust by making part of
    its payments in equity rather than cash.

    With the Canadian Auto Workers, Chrysler is seeking to reduce wages and
    benefits to match those paid by foreign automakers in the country.

    "The additional concessions we are seeking from the UAW are critical to
    receiving continued support of the administration, completing our Fiat
    alliance and achieving sustained viability," Nardelli said.

    The CAW expects to resume talks with Chrysler on Monday and said it had
    invited Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to join the discussion. Marchionne
    had been critical of the union, saying that a lack of progress in talks
    between the union and Chrysler had reduced the likelihood of the
    alliance being completed.

    Chrysler has been operating under $4 billion of U.S. government
    emergency aid and could receive up to $6 billion additional aid if it
    completes the alliance and other cost-cutting measures.
    Jim Higgins, Apr 17, 2009
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  2. Jim Higgins

    who Guest

    Political leadership at Chrysler?
    That would be enough to put the final nails in Chryslers coffin.
    who, Apr 19, 2009
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