BEVERLEY HILLS, California: Kirk Kerkorian, gambling billionaire and corporate raider, has bid $4.58bn (€3.6bn; £2.29bn) in cash for Chrysler, the sickly US unit of DaimlerChrysler.

The entrepreneur has a history of flirtation with the auto industry, holding a ten per cent share of General Motors until last November when he offloaded his stock.

Kerkorian, who some think may be seeking his place in the sun as saviour of an American icon, insists he is a serious contender, declaring via his holding company, Tracinda, that Chrysler management and United Auto Workers could be "equity partners".

Kerkorian's legman, Jerome York, a former Chrysler cfo, set out Tracinda's case in a letter to DaimlerChrysler ceo Dieter Zetsche: "Tracinda believes, by taking a long-term approach to solving Chrysler's problems, it can become a robust and lasting, stand-alone entity."

DaimlerChrysler's reaction to the Kerkorian offer is unknown, although some observers have reportedly dismissed it as "too little".

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff