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Chrysler is on verge of being sold to equity firm

May 14, 2007|Kimi Yoshino and Martin Zimmerman | Times Staff Writers

DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said in February that company executives "do not exclude any option" in trying to rescue sagging profit. That was widely interpreted as meaning that Chrysler was on the auction block.

Canadian auto parts supplier Magna International Inc. had been considered a possible buyer on the strength of its relationship with Chrysler.

Two other private equity firms, Blackstone Group and Centerbridge Capital Partners, headed a consortium of investors that submitted a bid.

Kerkorian, who acquired a sizable stake in GM only to sell it last year for a $100-million profit, made a $4.5-billion all-cash offer for Chrysler last month.

Representatives of Kerkorian's investment company, Tracinda Corp., met with Chrysler workers who wanted to form an employee group to buy the company.

However, Kerkorian's efforts to open a dialogue with DaimlerChrysler appear to have foundered.

Kerkorian, joining with former Chairman Iacocca, had launched an unsuccessful $22.8-billion takeover bid for the automaker in the mid-1990s.

Tracinda couldn't be reached for comment Sunday night.

kimi.yoshino@latimes.com

martin.zimmerman@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Notable dates at Chrysler

1925: Chrysler founded by Detroit industrialist Walter P. Chrysler.

Nov. 28, 1978: Lee Iacocca hired as president and CEO of Chrysler Corp. For the year, Chrysler reported a $205-million loss.

1979: After teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, the company was rescued by Congress and President Carter.

Jan. 7, 1980: Carter signs Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act, which provides Chrysler with $1.5 billion in loan guarantees.

1983: After public campaigning by Iacocca, sales improve dramatically with the debut of the well-received K-car platform and the creation of the modern minivan.

August 1983: Chrysler pays off loans seven years early.

1984: Chrysler reports earning $2.4 billion for the year.

1987: Chrysler purchases American Motors Corp., which nets the company the Jeep brand.

Jan. 1, 1993: Iacocca becomes chairman of executive committee. He retires that year.

May 7, 1998: Daimler-Benz announces merger with Chrysler.

Jan. 29, 2001: DaimlerChrysler announces plans to cut 26,000 jobs at financially troubled Chrysler Group and idle six plants.

Feb. 14, 2007: Chrysler says it will cut 13,000 workers during the next three years. DaimlerChrysler says it won't rule out a possible sale of the U.S. operation.

April 5: Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian offers $4.5 billion in cash for Chrysler.

May 13: Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management said to be near a deal for Chrysler.

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Sources: Associated Press, Times research

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