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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kerkorian Offers $4.5Bln for Chrysler

NEW YORK -- Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian is making another bid for Chrysler, adding a new contender to the list of those vying to own the troubled automaker.

Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp., which tried to buy Chrysler in 1995 and lost out when the company merged with Daimler-Benz three years later, made a $4.5 billion cash offer Thursday for DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group.

Kerkorian's bid is slightly lower than at least one competing offer from Canadian auto-parts supplier Magna International, worth $4.7 billion. Two private equity groups have also expressed interest.

A deal would put Kerkorian in charge of Chrysler a decade after he said he was tricked out of billions of dollars in the 1998 deal in which Germany's Daimler-Benz joined with Chrysler in the so-called "merger of equals."

Long an active investor in automakers, the 89-year-old former movie mogul offered $22.8 billion for Chrysler in an unsuccessful 1995 takeover bid.

Chrysler has struggled amid intense competition in the auto industry. The maker of the Dodge Ram and the Jeep Grand Cherokee lost $1.5 billion last year and has announced 13,000 job cuts in North America and reduced production.

Tracinda in a statement said it wanted "to build and strengthen" the company and "will offer the UAW and Chrysler management the opportunity to participate as equity partners in the transaction."

The investment company said it would put down a $100 million deposit for the right to exclusive bargaining rights and signaled that it was ready to start a more extensive review of Chrysler's financial books right away. Tracinda said a deal could be completed within 60 days.

Han Tjan, head of corporate communications for DaimlerChrysler in New York, said the German-American automaker was talking with partners about a sale and that the chairman was satisfied with the process. "All of our options are still open. For us to talk about [Tracinda] is speculation," he said.

At least two groups besides Tracinda and Magna have expressed interest in the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler Group. Cerberus Capital Management and a consortium of investors led by Blackstone Group each have reviewed Chrysler's finances and are expected to make bids.

Cerberus spokeswoman J.J. Rissi said she could "offer no confirmation on any bid submission by Cerberus." John Ford, a spokesman for Blackstone, said he could not comment on Tracinda's bid.

A message seeking comment was also left with officials from Magna.

California-based Tracinda said its offer is subject to Chrysler reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the United Auto Workers union as well as a deal with DaimlerChrysler on sharing the estimated $22 billion unfunded pension liabilities and health care costs of Chrysler retirees.

Kerkorian long has had interest in automotive companies. Late last year, he dumped the last block of what once was a nearly 10 percent share of General Motors, the world's largest automaker. He had pushed for an alliance between GM, Nissan Motor and Renault. GM's board voted to explore the possibility, but after three months of discussion, the idea was scrapped.