Cerberus Wins NYT Dealbook's "How Not to Win Friends" Award

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Now that we're in the post-Christmas pre-New Year interregnum, the media is, as usual, attempting to fill the void with retrospectives. The New York Times Dealbook looks back at the wheelers and dealers that filled their column inches in '07. And you just knew Cerberus' takeover of Chrysler Corp. was going to be in there somewhere. Somewhat surprisingly, scribe Andrew Ross Sorkin decided to upbraid the private equity firm for its lack of PR skills, rather than its decision to invest billions in a sinking ship. Perhaps that's because Cerberus is only slightly more media-friendly than Leonid Brezhnev's Kremlin. Well, not exactly. While we were expecting criticism of Cerberus' decision to dump combative Chrysler Spinmeister Jason Vines, and the resulting circling of Chrysler's PR wagons, Sorkin seems to think Cerberus' management style makes them unlikeable. "To lead Chrysler, Cerberus chose Robert Nardelli, the former chief of Home Depot, whose high-handed style helped get him ousted from his previous job. Layoffs grew, but so did losses. Then Cerberus dented its deal-making reputation by walking away from two previously agreed-to deals — for H&R Block’s mortgage arm and for United Rentals. So far, this charm offensive is light on the charm and heavy on the offensive." Don't look for Cerberus to answer Sorkin's emails anytime soon.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • GS650G GS650G on Dec 31, 2007

    Wait until they divide up the company, no Xmas cards from them.

  • SherbornSean SherbornSean on Dec 31, 2007

    I'd have a lot of respect for Chrysler if Nardelli & Co. came out swinging. I'd love to see him say: "I don't give a rat's ass what the NY Times or any other media has to say about us. All I care about is that our customers love our products." Of course, then he'd have to put a lot of money where his mouth is. More money than that 3 headed dog has ever seen.

  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Dec 31, 2007
    I’d love to see him say: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the NY Times or any other media has to say about us. All I care about is that our customers love our products.” With the exception of a Blackwater operator's bachelor party, I doubt there a demographic that cares less about what the NY Times writes than Cerberus...