Deutschland Meets Detroit

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Fortune 500 Profiles

  • Chrysler

  • Daimler-Benz
  • It's a match made in Detroit heaven: Luxury European auto meets mass-market American car. They marry, and await the pitter-patter of $131 billion in annual worldwide sales. That's the love story Wall Street would like to write for Daimler Benz and Chrysler, who went public with their wooing Wednesday. Why? Because the dowry would be huge: Sources close to the deal say Daimler would buy their bride for $35 billion, a full $8 billion above Chrysler's market value. Such a wedding would make for the largest industrial merger in history.

    Not that analysts are cutting the cake just yet. "What we don't know right now is just how far along the talks are," says TIME Bonn bureau chief Jordan Bonfante. "A deal like this is very complex -- just look at Rolls Royce and BMW, a much more simple negotiation that has dragged on for months." Other hurdles on the road to wedlock: Antitrust investigations in both Brussels and Washington. Of course, the course of corporate love never did run smooth. And the promise of all those hot sports utility vehicles at Chrysler should keep Daimler on the straight and narrow.