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Published: Friday, 7/27/2007

Bernhard said to be choice to become Chrysler chairman, was DaimlerChrysler number 2 from 2000 to 2004


DETROIT - Wolfgang Bernhard, a senior adviser to Cerberus Capital Management LP, will return to Chrysler to become chairman of the automaker's board of directors once its sale to the private equity firm is completed, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

The likely date of the sale's closure is Aug. 3, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of not being identified by name.

The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, also said that current Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda would remain in his current position and control day-to-day decision-making.

The Bernhard appointment also was reported by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Detroit News. The newspapers cited people familiar with the situation they didn't name.

Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said he had no comment. A message seeking comment was left for Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda.

Bernhard's return to Chrysler is not a surprise. His involvement in negotiations between Chrysler's parent, DaimlerChrysler AG, and Cerberus is thought to have played a role in persuading United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger to support the sale.

Bernhard was known for his manufacturing acumen and his decisive management style when he served as chief operating officer at Chrysler from 2000 to 2004. He acted as the No. 2 executive to former Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who now is the chief executive at DaimlerChrysler.

Bernhard eventually left DaimlerChrysler for Volkswagen and oversaw the VW brand until stepping down for unspecified reasons in January.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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