Cerberus Secures $62b for Chryslers Recapitalization

By: Anthony Fontanelle

The Cerberus Capital Management said last Friday that seven major North American banks and investment banks have agreed to raise the $62 billion needed to refinance the debt and recapitalize Chrysler Group.

It can be recalled that the New York-based private equity firm announced on Monday that it would acquire the American division of Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG for $7.4 billion. But the private equity firm revealed little else about how it would finance the takeover.

The Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda said that the mix of financing will include securities backed by the Chrysler's automobile assets, high-yield corporate debt, and bank loans. Spearheading the financing is JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns Cos., Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada.

According to financial data tracker Dealogic, some $50 billion of proceeds will be used to refinance debt at Chrysler's financing unit. The amount will be the largest refinanced by a private equity firm.

In the much-concluded bidding contest against Blackstone Group and Canada's Magna International Inc., Cerberus offered the best terms, DCX CEO Dieter Zetsche intimated. The proposal of private-equity firm covers quick deal and least risks to DCX. The deal was agreed to by the German automaker's management board and hinges on supervisory board approval. But the company signaled that it already had the support of the board's labor representatives, who account for half of its 20 members.

"The outcome of this supervisory board meeting is easy to forecast," Zetsche said. He added, "We're confident that we've found the solution that will create the greatest overall value - both for Daimler and Chrysler. With this transaction, we have created the right conditions for a new start for Chrysler and Daimler. There is potential, but given the very different nature of the segments we operate in, those synergies are limited."

Asked about Chrysler's failure, Zetsche said that Daimler miscalculated the effect of the transfer of Mercedes technology to Chrysler's brands and the strength of its pricing. "The American volume customer is probably not willing and able to pay premium prices for technology offered in those cars," he noted.

During the conference call Monday, DCX Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber said that the new Chrysler would likely carry a "BB" junk rating after it splits from DCX, which has a "BBB" investment-grade rating. The lower rating would equate to higher borrowing costs.

As part of the $62 billion financing, the banks have agreed to secure $12 billion in loans that the private equity firm can draw from to help in the restructuring. It was not known how the banks would split that amount. As part of the $7.4 billion takeover price for the deal, Cerberus agreed to contribute $5 billion directly to the carmaker and $1.05 billion would be pumped into its financing arm. DaimlerChrysler will receive roughly $1.35 billion of the amount.

But other expenses to be absorbed by DCX mean the company's net cost of getting rid of the ailing American division will actually rise to as much as $1.5 billion. That includes a $400 million loan, among other payments, as part of the transaction. DCX also is on the hook to pay $1 billion into Chrysler's pension fund should the fund be rescinded within five years of the sale. The private equity firm said it would pay $200 million into the pension fund, which would come out of the deal price.

The new owner of Chrysler is positive that the automaker could recuperate in due time. Like the cutting edge performance of , Chrysler could recover from the previous losses and put sales doldrums to a timely halt. Cerberus is looking forward to a more productive Chrysler but the company is not hanging a dogmatic timeline for recovery.

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