Germany's Daimler said Wednesday it is in talks to sell its remaining stake in Chrysler to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.
Daimler spokesman Han Tjan confirmed a report in Germany's Manager Magazin that the company is in talks to sell the 19.9 percent it owns in the U.S.-based automaker. He would give no details.
Cerberus said in a statement that it approached Daimler about the purchase. If the transaction succeeds, “all existing industrial relationships between Daimler and Chrysler would continue,” the statement said, giving no details.
Cerberus bought 80.1 percent of Chrysler from Daimler in August 2007 in a $7.4 billion deal. The sale ended a stormy nine-year partnership between Daimler and Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler. The companies have continued to share diesel engine and other technology.
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Since Cerberus took control, Chrysler has faced tough times. The U.S. economy and auto sales have slumped, and $4-per-gallon gas has driven consumers from its trucks and sport utility vehicles toward small cars, where the lineup is thin. Sales are off 24 percent through August.
As a private company, Chrysler does not have to report its earnings. But reporters and analysts were able to calculate its performance from Daimler's financial statements. Buying 100 percent of the company would make Chrysler's earnings completely private.
On Tuesday, top Chrysler executives told dealers the company has lost $400 million this year. They used a satellite feed to address dealers who gathered in movie theaters across the country for a three-hour presentation on the state of Chrysler's business and future products.