Kerkorian bid for Chrysler scrapped

FROM DAVID USBORNE in New York

Kirk Kerkorian's $22.8bn takeover offer for Chrysler, which had withered steadily in credibility since being unveiled to an astonished Wall Street seven weeks ago, was formally taken off the table yesterday.

The billionaire investor, who made the offer through his Las Vegas investment group, Tracinda, said he would be considering other options regarding his 10 per cent stake in Chrysler, America's third biggest car maker. He indicated that he would not be seeking to sell his shares.

The withdrawal was barely noticed on Wall Street, where most analysts had long judged the offer a non-runner. Mr Kerkorian was unable to raise the$18.5bn thought to be needed for the bid."Stock has been trading on the assumption that the bid would not go through in its present form," a Wall Street trader said.

Chrysler instantly opposed Mr Kerkorian's advance, made with the support of Lee Iacocca, the company's former chief and corporate superstar. "We didn't consider it a true offer because he didn't have financing," Robert Eaton, the chairman, told shareholders at Chrysler's recent annual meeting.

At the meeting, Mr Eaton announced a 25 per cent increase in shareholders' dividends to $2 annually per share. This fell well short of a $5 dividend demanded by Mr Kerkorian.

Mr Kerkorian, 77, comes away from the episode barely enriched. The bid never seemed to have much chance of lifting off; nor was Chrysler apparently ever inclined to buy his shares back from him.

Comment, above

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