The fate of Chrysler LLC continues to grow more complicated as reports today indicate that Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has made an offer to buy 20% of the privately owned automaker from Cerberus Capital Management, which is also currently in talks to make a deal with General Motors. Unlike a potential deal with GM that could see Chrysler's brands dismantled, a deal with Nissan, which already has an alliance with Renault, would likely keep the American automaker intact and moving forward. Chrysler would become, in effect, the American arm of a triumvirate of brands that includes Nissan from Japan and Renault from Europe. Only Nissan's name is on the offer, however, because it reportedly has the cash on hand to make a deal, while Renault has around $5 billion of debt on the books. Nissan also already has a partnership with Chrysler in which it will get a version of the Dodge Ram full-size truck to replace the Titan and in return supply Chrysler with a new small car.

A potential Chrysler/Nissan/Renault mashup makes much more sense than combining two American automakers whose products overlap and are both in bad shape right now. But sense doesn't mean much when companies are out to make money, and Cerberus may not be interested in a deal with Nissan that keeps it a player in the auto industry. The investment firm reportedly still favors a deal with GM that would essentially fill its pockets with cash and absolve it of any responsibility for the house that Walter P. built.

UPDATE: Some people have asked about what will happen to Daimler's remaining 19.9% of Chrysler LLC if Cerberus makes a deal with either GM or Nissan, and reports indicate that Chrysler is actively seeking to buy the rest of Daimler's stake before any deal is made. We're guessing the German automaker is just about ready to relinquish its rights to Chrysler and get as far as away from this cluster **** as possible.

[Source: The Detroit News]