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Nardelli back in driver’s seat

Marketplace Staff Aug 6, 2007


Doug Krizner: There’s a new CEO at Chrysler. He’s Robert Nardelli, the former chief of Home Depot, and he’ll be the first to run Chrysler as a private company for its new owner Cerberus Capital Management. Let’s go to Detroit and bring in Micki Maynard. She covers the auto industry for the New York Times. Micki, is Bob Nardelli an unlikely choice, why go outside the auto industry?

Micki Maynard: Well the folks at Cerberus were telling us that his turnaround expertise is what made him attractive. And in fact that’s exactly what Chrysler needs. It’s been on a real roller coaster over the last really 30 years but even in this decade Chrysler’s made money, it’s lost money, it’s made money, it’s lost money. And I think they want to stabilze the company maybe with a long-term view.

Krizner: What about negotiations with the union, how critical is that going to be going forward?

Maynard: Well now this casts the UAW negotiations in a whole new light because you have two out of the three CEOs in the Detroit companies that weren’t part of the Detroit auto industry so you’ve got fresh eyes looking at both Ford and Chrysler so I think this puts another level of pressure on the UAW to sort of come up with innovative solutions and rethink the way things are done in Detroit.

Krizner: Could this be a textbook example in how private equity works? In other words, you bring someone who has expertise in restructuring, chop it up and get it lean and mean and then offer it to the public again?

Maynard: In fact that’s what Chrysler is ripe for in a sense. It has some brands that are valuable, like Jeep. It’s got some facilities that are stunning — their technical center in Detroit is a wonderful facility — so I think there are pieces of Chrysler that’ll go and I think there are pieces of Chrysler they’ll polish up and perhaps two to three years down the road you could see something like a merger with another global car company.

Krizner: Micki Maynard the auto industry for the New York Times. Hey Micki, thanks so much for talking to us.

Maynard: Oh it’s my pleasure.

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