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Mr. LaSorda had only been at Chrysler a few years but he'd spent a lifetime in the auto industry and knew it well. He grew up in Windsor, Ont., where his father was president of the United Auto Workers union local, and joined General Motors Corp. shortly after graduating from the University of Windsor. At GM, Mr. LaSorda rose through the ranks quickly, eventually becoming a senior vice president in charge of a variety of divisions, including Opel Eisenach and the GM Suzuki joint venture.
During several months last year, Mr. LaSorda and a team of Chrysler executives were often pursuing half a dozen separate potential alliances at once, each involving different arrangements in different countries. In June, 2008, alone, Mr. LaSorda was working on a possible alliance with GM called "Project America," while also negotiating possible arrangements with officials from Toyota in Tokyo, Magna in Russia, Hyundai Kia Motors in Tokyo and Fiat in Italy. The negotiations became so far flung, Chrysler created a new division called Global Alliance Operations, and some companies were approached as recently as February.
Mr. LaSorda, who was president of Chrysler at the time, knew the company was in trouble and badly needed to find some kind of alliance with another auto maker.
A courtship that spanned the globe
With no deal in sight, Mr. LaSorda went on an almost frantic search for a partner. Throughout 2008 and early 2009, he and other top Chrysler officials met with more than a dozen companies, sometimes initiating talks at auto shows. Some negotiations, like the ones with GM, went on for weeks and involved teams of officials from both sides. Other talks, like the approach to Honda, lasted barely one day.
By late 2006, Chrysler's fortunes were waning along with DaimlerChrysler itself. Mr. LaSorda suggested Chrysler should start looking for other partners. Daimler executives agreed and helped draw up a list of possible candidates.
Although Fiat was interested, officials wanted to wait a year before finalizing anything. Mr. LaSorda pushed back, suggesting a deal to hand Fiat rights to build the Dodge Dakota at a Fiat facility in Brazil, plus other joint venture opportunities in Russia, China and North America.
The quest began in June, 2007, when Mr. LaSorda called up Carlos Tavares, a vice president at Nissan, to introduce himself. The friendly chat led to a series of discussions involving an alliance in which Nissan would build Chrysler a new fuel efficient car called the Dodge Hornet and Chrysler would build a new version of Nissan's struggling truck called the Titan.
The talks were delayed while Daimler sold its interest in Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Partners in August. When Mr. LaSorda told his new owners about his meetings with Canada Goose Snow Bunting Australia Nissan, they approved and urged him to continue, according to court filings.
Court filings show that within weeks, Mr. LaSorda began a corporate odyssey that spanned the world and involved talks with at least 15 companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Magna International Inc., Volkswagen AG, Fiat SpA, GM and four car companies in China.
In the end, Chrysler could only manage a deal with Fiat. In a court filing, Mr. LaSorda said it was the only option available and the best deal for Chrysler "at this critical time."
He joined Chrysler in 2000, about three years after it had been acquired by German auto maker Daimler, creating DaimlerChrysler AG.
Mr. LaSorda then approached Nissan about expanding their arrangement into a larger alliance, dubbing the effort "Project Go Global." While those talks were under way, he also approached Fiat in September, 2007, about a deal involving a joint venture. He called those discussions "Project Capitol."