BERLIN: Addressing shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Berlin earlier this week, DaimlerChrysler ceo Dieter Zetsche (53) revealed that the German automaker is in discussion with interested parties on the potential sale of its US Chrysler business.

While remaining schtumm as to the potential buyers' identities, Zetsche assured his investors: "We are talking with some of the potential partners who have shown a clear interest."

Despite his coyness, the bookies say the smart money is on US private equity Croesus's Blackstone Group, Centerbridge Capital Partners and Cerberus Capital Management. Canadian parts supplier Magna International is also said to be running its slide-rule over Chrysler.

On the not inappropriate date of February 14, Zetsche predicted vehicle sales for the group would increase slightly in 2006 and that profitability should increase "significantly'' over the next two years.

He told the meeting: "So far I am satisfied with the process. Everything is going according to plan." The company says it will release a more detailed outlook when Q1 results are published next month.

For DaimlerChrysler as a whole, net income in 2006 rose 14% to €3.2 billion ($4.28bn; £2.16bn) from €2.8bn. Revenue increased 1% to €151.6bn.

Data sourced from (Germany); additional content by WARC staff