Outlook: A good fit - if the deal goes through

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The Independent Online
ONCE upon a time the idea of Mercedes parking up with the company that gave us the lemon known as the Talbot Sunbeam would have sent shivers down the spine in the Fatherland. But history has moved on since 1979 when Chrysler beat its ignominious retreat from Europe, leaving the British government to pick up the pieces at Linwood.

Twenty years on, Chrysler and Daimler-Benz make rather a good fit. The Americans nowadays make more light trucks than cars and their Jeep Grand Cherokees, Voyagers and Ram pick-ups would not look out of place on the forecourt alongside the Merc S-Class. There would be no messy bust-ups over whose models to ditch - the issue that killed off the Ford-Fiat merger. Nor, despite the understandable apprehension in Michigan, would there be any obvious casualties among the combined workforce.

For the same reasons, there would be limited opportunities for cost savings, making this more of a marketing merger than an industrial alliance. But, as both companies were keen to point out yesterday, no agreement has yet been signed and egos could still get in the way despite the bizarre idea of making Jurgen Schrempp and Robert Eaton co-chief execs. Both will be calculating the other won't be around for long but both will be equally conscious they could be the loser. This is not yet a done deal.

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