Magna's decision to allow the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) to organise at its plants is driven largely by chairman Frank Stronach's desire to become a vehicle manufacturer.

According to the website of automotive component industry analysts, SupplierBusiness, by allowing the CAW, and presumably at a later date the US equivalent, the United Auto Workers (UAW), to organise at its facilities, Magna will be able to partner with Chrysler's new owner, Cerberus Capital Management, should the opportunity arise.

The move is a major change of strategy for Magna, which has stood against unionisation for decades. The company first signaled a change of direction at its 2006 annual general meeting, and has been negotiating for more than two years. Last week Cerberus concluded a deal with the United Auto Workers after a strike that lasted six hours. That deal paved the way for Magna to announce its position, said SupplierBusiness.

"Magna remains deeply interested in a role at Chrysler and prospects for such a tie-up have improved in recent weeks as Cerberus' financial bosses in New York have come to terms with the harsh realities of the auto industry," wrote SupplierBusiness. Cerberus reportedly needs more cash than expected to compete globally in the automotive industry and is looking for strategic partners. Magna has emerged as a key candidate, and one that could take an ownership stake and eventually control.

Magna has 141 plants throughout North America (61 in Canada) that will  now organise recruiting drives.

Earlier this year Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska acquired 20% of Magna. Deripaska invested US$1.5bn in the firm, funds that could prove crucial in partnering with Cerberus, said SupplierBusiness. Derispaska and Stronach now each control 42% of a holding company that controls Magna.