Chrysler’s chief negotiator in talks to join Cerberus

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

John Bozzella, Chrysler Group's chief negotiator in settlement talks with dealers, will soon be working for the automaker's former owner Cerberus Capital Management LP.

In an interview with The Detroit News, Bozzella, whose resignation is effective Dec. 31, has confirmed the move to the private equity firm. Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan said that the replacement will be announced within the next few weeks.

Morgan says though that Chrysler didn't ask for Bozzella's resignation. Tamara Darvish, a leader of the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights, a rejected-dealer group, says that as the case is moving to arbitration, Bozzella's resignation is "very unfortunate" since he was involved with all aspects of the negotiations and had firsthand knowledge of the commitments that Chrysler made to dealers.

Bozzella's resignation was revealed on Chrysler's Web site Monday, which is the day after the Senate passed legislation giving rejected Chrysler and General Motors Co. dealerships access to neutral arbitration to pursue reinstatement.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed that bill, which lists criteria to be applied by arbitrators under the new law that are said to be more favorable to dealerships than those envisioned by the automakers in plans announced earlier in December.

The legislation had been drafted after Chrysler and GM broke off settlement talks with dealer groups this month. Lawmakers intend for these discussions as an alternative to earlier legislation that would have reversed 2,150 Chrysler and GM dealership terminations, 789 of them at Chrysler.

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