Chrysler Names Chairman for Post-bankruptcy

Meanwhile, judge denies investors' bid to delay bankruptcy.

Chrysler announced Wednesday that a new chairman will take over after the troubled automaker completes a bankruptcy restructuring exercise and forges a global alliance with Italy's Fiat. Robert Kidder, ex-chairman of Borden Chemical and Duracell International, was to take over from Robert Nardelli, who had said earlier that he would stay on only to oversee the bankruptcy procedure.

"I am confident that Chrysler will emerge from Chapter 11 [bankruptcy] a lean and powerful competitor, combining its own rich history of innovation with Fiat's technology and expertise to invigorate the American car market and to challenge other car companies around the globe," Kidder said in a statement.

Nardelli said he was confident Kidder would "provide the leadership and strategic counsel that will help to create a strong global competitor moving forward."

A spokesman for Fiat said earlier this month that Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne will be the new chief executive of Chrysler after its bankruptcy exit.

In mid-April, Marchionne had already said it was "possible" that he would head both companies.

Chrysler was forced to file for bankruptcy protection on April 30 and agreed an alliance with Fiat that will initially give the Italian company a 20% stake. In return, Fiat will allow access to its technology to enable the U.S. carmaker to make the smaller, greener cars that are increasingly in demand.

The U.S. administration has set a target of late June for Chrysler to regain solvency.

Meanwhile, a bankruptcy court judge in New York on Wednesday rejected a bid by some pension funds to postpone Chrysler's bankruptcy and allow a district court to rule on the case. Judge Arthur Gonzalez had said earlier he would announce his court's findings on the future of Chrysler on May 27.

Chrysler cleared a major hurdle to its restructuring plan two weeks ago after a group of creditors dropped their objections to a plan to sharply reduce the value of their debt holdings. Chrysler had hoped to wrap up the court-supervised bankruptcy process within 30 to 60 days from April 30 by selling the automaker's main assets to a new entity including Fiat.

The new firm would be majority owned by the United Auto Workers union, with small stakes by the U.S. and Canadian governments, which would contribute some $10.5 billion to the venture.

Fiat would initially take a 20% stake in the firm that would rise to 35% and could reach 51% as early as 2013 if Chrysler is able to repay its government loans.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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