Will Shwarzman wind up buying Chrysler?

Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman is about to officially become a multigazillionaire, once his company goes public and everybody knows what his stake is worth. But in the public mind, will he really have overtaken Henry Kravis as the ne plus ultra of private-equity honchos? Maybe not. What he really needs is not more money, or more lavish parties; he needs to do something which will connect him to the entire country. You know, like buy Detroit.

Blackstone, it turns out, in concert with Centerbridge, is one of the two main suitors trying to buy Chrysler. The other is auto-parts supplier Magna International – if they become too much of a threat, maybe Schwarzman can buy them, too!

This certainly counts as a distressed sale for Chrysler. Daimler paid $36 billion for the automaker back in 1998, and now will be lucky if it gets $8 billion in this sale. But from the noises that Daimler’s shareholders are making, they’d be happy if DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche sold the US arm for a penny.

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