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Tue, Jul 07, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Chrysler appoints Steenland to complete its board


Chrysler Group LLC, the US automaker run by Fiat SPA, said former Northwest Airlines Corp chief executive officer Douglas Steenland would join the nine-member board.

The automaker, which emerged from bankruptcy on June 10, also named as directors former Michigan governor James Blanchard, Tristone Capital Inc chief executive officer and president George Gosbee, Sageview Capital LLC founding partner Scott Stuart, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association chairman of the board of trustees Ronald Thompson and R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co chairman Stephen Wolf.

C. Robert Kidder, who was named acting chairman on May 20, made the announcement in a statement on Sunday. He is also the chairman of 3Stone Advisors LLC. Fiat chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne and Alfredo Altavilla of Fiat Powertrain Technologies were previously named to Chrysler’s board.

The directors, while presiding over a closely held company, will be accountable to the public after the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based carmaker took a total of US$15 billion in US and Canadian loans since January.

“The objective here is not to have this private company be a private company forever,” said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The idea is to build some value and then spin it off and get a return.”

Kidder said the group would meet for the first time on July 29.

The appointees from Fiat are Marchionne, Altavilla and Wolf. The US appointees are Kidder, Steenland, Thompson and Stuart. Canada’s appointee is Gosbee and the United Auto Workers union’s health care trust fund appointee is Blanchard.

Fiat, based in Turin, Italy, owns 20 percent of Chrysler Group, and is sharing vehicles and technology with the US car company in exchange for the ownership stake. Fiat can gain a fourth board seat if it increases its ownership stake.

Chrysler Group is a new company created from the purchase of the bankrupt former automaker Chrysler LLC’s best assets. Now called Old Carco LLC, Chrysler LLC is owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP and Daimler AG and went into bankruptcy on April 30. On Friday, it sold its best assets to Chrysler Group for US$2 billion.

What remains — seven factories and one office building — is being wound down under the control of Ron Kolka, the former chief financial officer of the car company. The process could take several years.

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