DaimlerChrysler (DCX) confirmed it's talking about a possible sale or partnership involving its struggling U.S. business.
In the text of prepared remarks he was to make at the company's annual meeting in Berlin, CEO Dieter Zetsche "confirmed for the first time that discussions have taken place with interested parties regarding future options for the Chrysler Group" but offered little detail.
"In this context, I can confirm that we are talking with some of the potential partners who have shown a clear interest," Zetsche said. "But it is also true that we need to keep all options open, and that I cannot disclose any details, because we need to have the maximum scope for maneuver." The company's management requires "the greatest possible flexibility so that we can identify and then professionally implement the best possible solution."
The comments come a day after the company said Chrysler U.S. sales fell 4.6% from a year ago in March. Last month, Daimler shares spiked after a Wall Street analyst said auto-parts supplier
had teamed up with a private-equity firm to offer $4.6 billion to $4.7 billion for the German automaker's U.S.-based Chrysler business.
Cerberus Capital Management and a team led by Blackstone Group and Centerbridge Partners LP have also been named as front-runners in negotiations for the struggling auto manufacturer, according to a report from Bloomberg News that cited two sources familiar with the talks.
On Wednesday, Daimler said it aims to "enhance DaimlerChrysler's financial strength in a sustainable way and increase enterprise value; create the right conditions for a clear strategic focus for DaimlerChrysler; make the Chrysler Group's business system competitive and profitable on a sustainable basis; and find the best possible option for the employees."
"This means, that after reviewing all options, we will finally decide for the option that best meets our criteria," Zetsche said. "So far, I am satisfied with the process. Everything is going according to plan."