DaimlerChrysler, the automotive powerhouse created last year by the merger of Chrysler and Germany's Daimler Benz, said it will combine their financial services operations into a single unit with more than $81 billion of outstanding loans and credits.

DaimlerChrysler Services AG, headquartered in Berlin, will be the world's fourth-largest provider of financial services outside banking and insurance, the company said Wednesday. Daimler and Chrysler last year posted a combined $14 billion in revenues from financial services and employed 23,000 people.

Operating profits over the first three quarters last year reached $324 million at Daimler Benz and $518 million at Chrysler, making financial services the second-biggest contributor to earnings after automotive sales.

DaimlerChrylser is only one of several industrial groups that has become increasingly active competing against banks in financial services through captive finance units.

Both General Motors and General Electric, for example, now run worldwide operations that go well beyond providing financing for the sale of their products. And both are actively involved in purchasing foreign financial institutions such as banks and leasing companies.

In addition to financial services, DaimlerChrysler Services is targeting information technology and telecommunications for future growth.

Klaus Mangold, chairman of DaimlerChrysler Services, said it will integrate its financial services in two steps, helping to streamline decision-making and reduce operating expenses.

In North America, Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp. and Chrysler Financial Co. will merge to form DaimlerChrysler Financial Services North America.

In Berlin, Finanzdienstleistungs GmbH will be incorporated into DaimlerChrysler Services AG, the former financial services holding company. Mr. Mangold will be in charge of the newly formed financial services business.

Darrell L. Davis, former chairman of Chrysler Financial, has been named chief executive of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services North America.

Georg Bauer, formerly president of Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp., will be responsible for Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia/Pacific, as well as insurance and trade finance.

Though the worldwide headquarters of the group's financial services activities is now in Berlin, North American operations will be managed from Southfield, Mich., the headquarters of Chrysler Financial. In all, the Daimler and Chrysler units reaped 40% of their 1998 revenues in North America.

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