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said Tuesday its U.S.-based Chrysler unit will offer hourly workers a voluntary retirement package worth $35,000 as part of its "turnaround plan."


The Wall Street Journal

said the German auto giant plans to announce at its annual press conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on Feb. 26 that it expects its Chrysler unit to turn a profit in first half of 2002, perhaps as soon as the first quarter of 2002.

Also at the Feb. 26 conference, the automaker will announce plans for its troubled American unit, which has of late been treading in turbulent waters.

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In late January, the company announced plans to

eliminate 26,000 jobs at Chrysler, or about 20% of its workforce, in order to cut costs. News of the job cuts was then followed by a report that the company has been threatened by a

hostile takeover . Most recently, the


reported that the company plans to take a

restructuring charge of as much as $3 billion for the cuts at Chrysler.

Tuesday, DaimlerChrysler said it reached an agreement with the United Auto Workers to offer a severance package to employees eligible for retirement. The company said half of the $35,000 would be earmarked for the purchase of a Chrysler vehicle, while the other $17,500 would be a cash payment.

The acceptance period for this incentive program will vary according to timing and location of the job cuts, the company said.