With the new Chrysler Group LLC on the road, the company’s old chairman and chief executive is officially out of job. He said he was heading back to wait in the bullpen at Cerberus Capital Management for another call. It might be a long wait, since Cerberus’ appetite for risk has probably diminished since taking on Chrysler. In fact some observers question whether private equity firms will ever be as prominent as they once were before the financial meltdown.
However, to judge Nardelli fairly, you have to separate what he did in Auburn Hills from the speculative failure of Cerberus, which ultimately saw it donating its share of Chrysler LLC to the government to escape what was a bad, leveraged bet.
Considering the challenges he faced, Nardelli actually did a pretty good job.
In fact, Nardelli’s tenure was marked by an enormous amount of stress right from the start as Daimler AG cut its ties and fled back to Germany where the competition was far less intense and the government far more supportive and protective of companies in the industrial sector.
Moreover, not only had Daimler’s European executives failed at turning around the company’s fading fortunes, but so had the American management team that had tried to run the company immediately after 1998′s merger with the German automaker. (more…)