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Daimler AG gives up Chrysler stake, writes off $700M

by Bill Cawthon on

German automaker Daimler AG has agreed to give Cerberus Capital Management its 19.9 percent share of Chrysler LLC and write off a $1.5 billion loan, helping the Detroit automaker to clear way for the Detroit automaker’s proposed alliance with Fiat SpA and avoid bankruptcy.

Daimler today signed a term sheet with Cerberus Capital Management and the U.S. Pernsion Benefit Guaranty Corp. The agreement ends the DaimlerChrysler era, which left Chrysler in a shambles, followed by Cerberus’s acquisition, which burdened Chrysler with billions of dollars in debt.

Under the deal, Cerberus and Chrysler will waive all claims against Daimler and Chrysler will make three annual payments of $200 million each into the company’s pension plans, beginning on Thursday, April 30 and on the same date in 2010 and 2011. Daimler, which had already written the value of its stake down to zero, will take an expense of $700 million against pre-tax earnings in the second quarter.

In a statement, Daimler said:

“Daimler’s remaining 19.9 percent shareholding in Chrysler will be redeemed, and Daimler will forgive repayment of the loans extended to Chrysler, which were already written off in the 2008 financial statement.”

The Daimler statement also said, “Following the transfer of the term sheet into the final definitive agreements, the relationship between Daimler and Chrysler will solely consist of dealer-supplier-customer relations including limited support for certain dealer financing until the end of September 2009.”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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