Billionaire Kerkorian Makes $4.5 Billion Offer for Chrysler

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. on Thursday made a $4.5 billion cash offer for DaimlerChrysler AG's (DCX) troubled U.S.-based Chrysler unit.

Tracinda in a statement said it wants "to build and strengthen" the troubled automaker and "will offer the UAW and Chrysler management the opportunity to participate as equity partners in the transaction."

DaimlerChrysler has been exploring the possibility of selling the Chrysler division.

Han Tjan, head of corporate communications for DaimlerChrysler in New York, said the German-American automaker is talking with possible partners about a sale and that the chairman is satisfied with the process.

"All of our options are still open. For us to talk about (Tracinda) is speculation," Tjan said.

California-based Tracinda said its offer is subject to Chrysler reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the United Auto Workers as well as a deal with DaimlerChrysler on sharing the unfunded pension liabilities and health care costs of Chrysler retirees.

DaimlerChrysler shares climbed $2.36, or 2.9 percent, to $83.35 on the New York Stock Exchange after the announcement.

Kerkorian long has had interest in automotive companies.

Late last year he dumped the last block of what once was a nearly 10 percent share of General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker, after GM (GM) shelved the idea he had pushed of an alliance with France's Renault SA and Japan's Nissan Motor Co.

Kerkorian's wholly owned Tracinda was Chrysler Corp.'s largest shareholder at the time of its 1998 merger with DaimlerBenz AG. Kerkorian sued the combined company in 2000, claiming that DaimlerBenz engineered a takeover of Chrysler, then cheated him out of billions by casting the deal as a merger of equals. A federal judge rejected his claim.

At least three groups reportedly have expressed interest in Auburn Hills-based Chrysler, including Canadian auto-parts supplier Magna International Inc., which reportedly has submitted a bid to buy the business for as much as $4.7 billion.

Cerberus Capital Management LLC and a consortium of investors led by Blackstone Group each have reviewed Chrysler's finances and are expected to make bids.