BERLIN -- DaimlerChrysler intends to launch its own bank in the United States as a way to reduce borrowing costs, the head of the German-American carmaker's financial services division said.
"We hope to get approval in the first quarter of 2006," Juergen Walker told journalists in Berlin on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
The bank could operate across the United States by gaining a license in the state of Utah as long as it is organizationally separate from the group's car business, Walker explained.
The finance arm at world's fifth-biggest carmaker could use such an arrangement to get better borrowing terms than the overall group can arrange, he said.
DaimlerChrysler is rated "BBB" by Standard & Poor's, "A3" by Moody's and "BBB+" by Fitch, which is higher than U.S. rivals General Motors and Ford Motor Co., whose debt ratings have fallen below investment grade.
DaimlerChrysler already operates a bank in Germany and recently won approval to offer financial services such as leasing and car loans in China.
U.S. operations make up around 70 percent of the financial services division's business volume. The division boosted nine-month operating profit 1 percent to 1.12 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
"We expect to have good results for the full year as well," Walker said, but he would not specify whether they would be above the 1.25 billion euro operating profit it made in 2004.
Walker said his division would continue to focus on core businesses such as leasing, finance for private customers, insurance and fleet management.
It remained committed to its 45-percent stake in Toll Collect, which operates Germany's truck toll system. Deutsche Telekom also has 45 percent and France's Cofiroute the other 10 percent.