Late yesterday, insiders privy to the ongoing talks within DaimlerChrysler to sell off its less profitable American half have leaked that the number of groups vying for control of the ailing automaker have been narrowed down to three.

Cerberus Capital Management, a New York-based private equity firm, is one of the top contenders and has recently established itself as a force to be reckoned with within the U.S. auto industry. Between the recent purchase of a 51-percent stake in GMAC, acquiring the assets of Tower Automotive and making a serious play for Delphi Corp., the addition of Chrysler to its ever-expanding portfolio would give the firm even more clout than it has received thus far.

The Blackstone Group, headed by CEO Stephen Schwarzman, recently named the "King of Wall Street" by Fortune magazine, is another serious player. With over 100 companies in its stable and voicing support of Tom LaSorda, Chrysler's CEO, the firm intends to merely supervise the board, rather than oust sitting members, if a buyout was to take place.

Magna seems to be the most unlikely candidate, as Chrysler's liabilities far outweigh what the Canadian company may be able to manage.

Although there have been no formal bids or announcements, sources have indicated that private talks with one of these groups will begin sooner, rather than later, most likely sometime next week.

[Source: Detroit News]