CHICAGO (Reuters) - Cerberus Capital Management LP sees Chrysler LLC's new contract with UAW as a "win-win" for both sides that would help restore the car company to profitability, Chairman John Snow said today.
Chrysler had said its goal was to return to profitability by 2009, but Snow suggested in an interview that the timing was less important than getting the struggling automaker moving in the right direction.
"It will certainly help that process, but '09 or '10 is less important to me than the fact that we are continuing to build the quality into the products, build dealer relationships, build customer understandings and build the company for the long term," Snow said.
Snow was not involved directly in the talks between Chrysler and the UAW, which were led on the Chrysler side by Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda, who was retained as an executive by Cerberus after it acquired Chrysler in August.
Cerberus acquired an 80 percent stake in Chrysler from former parent Daimler AG for $7.4 billion, unwinding a nearly decade-old merger. Daimler retained a 20 percent stake.
Cerberus has said it was looking at Chrysler as a long-term investment, but has given little indication about how long it expects a turnaround to take.
Representatives of both Cerberus and Chrysler have said they expect key decisions to be made much more quickly as a private car company.
In a speech to the Executives' Club of Chicago, Snow said Chrysler was able to make a recent decision to cut fourth-quarter production in a matter of minutes. He said that same decision would have taken weeks or months as a publicly traded company.
Chrysler said last week it planned to cut up to 10,000 hourly jobs as it slashes North American production and eliminates slow-selling vehicles. That came four days after Chrysler hourly workers ratified the new four-year contract.
Cerberus quickly hired former Home Depot Inc. CEO Bob Nardelli as Chrysler's CEO after completing its purchase of the automaker and then lured Jim Press from Toyota Motor Corp. to serve as product chief for Chrysler.
Asked whether he felt Chrysler's management team was now in place, Snow said, "Absolutely, but you are never stagnant. Cerberus and Chrysler, we are always on the outlook for good people. You can never have enough good people."