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Chrysler restructuring to be unveiled soon

From Reuters| January 24 , 2007

DaimlerChrysler AG is focused on restructuring the Chrysler group and plans to unveil a blueprint next month, CEO Dieter Zetsche said today.

Zetsche, who appeared at the Washington auto show, declined to provide details on the company's cost-cutting plans.

"There is a lot of speculation. When we announce our plan, there will be fact," Zetsche said. "We have a date coming up shortly and we will (address) it at that time, not in bits and pieces."

The Chrysler group has forecast a 2006 loss of $1.3 billion after failing to respond to consumers' shift away from high-margin pickups, SUV and minivans that represent about 64 percent of the company's U.S. sales.

The automaker has been preparing a restructuring plan since the second half of 2006. The plan is expected to include job cuts and cost reductions in production and procurement.

Chrysler has also said it is seeking a deal with its major union to cut its $2.3 billion annual health care bill.

An earlier Chrysler restructuring, spearheaded by Zetsche, has cut Chrysler's work force by about 35 percent, or almost 44,000 jobs, since 2000.

Chrysler's overall sales dropped 7 percent in 2006 in a U.S. market for cars and light trucks that dipped 2 percent.

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