Chrysler Financial Names New CEO

DETROIT, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Chrysler LLC's financial arm named Thomas Gilman as vice chairman and chief executive officer on Friday as the company grapples with a tight credit market and a slump in U.S. auto sales.

The appointment follows the decision by Paul Knauss to retire as the company's president and chief executive while William Jones Jr. retired as chief operating officer, Chrysler Financial said.

The finance company, which mainly supports Chrysler's vehicle sales, also named Darryl Jackson chief operating officer.

Last month, Chrysler, which is majority-owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management [CBS.UL], said the financing arm would stop offering vehicle leases, a risky form of vehicle financing that has saddled Chrysler's U.S. rivals with large losses,

The finance unit was unable to fully renew its $30 billion in short-term debt, which is backed by loans to dealers and consumers, and had to reduced the amount to $24 billion.

On Thursday, Moody's Investor Service cut the debt ratings of Chrysler and its finance arm further into junk status, citing competitive and financial pressures.

Like its larger competitors General Motors Corp (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Chrysler has faced scrutiny over its ability to ride out a downturn in U.S. auto sales that many analysts expect to stretch through 2009.