Continental has engaged Credit Suisse as an independent consultant as the supplier eyes its finance options.

“The key task of the advisor is to evaluate options for future sustainable financing and capital structures as well as to enable an optimal refinancing of the company,” Conti said in a statement.

“For the upcoming tasks and meetings regarding various inter-related financing topics, we wanted to ensure that we also have the support of an independent consultant without prior or existing connections to any of the stakeholders of Continental,” said CEO Elmar Degenhart.

“Our goal is to create a sound financial structure that continues to give us the flexibility to fully realise our strategic goals.”

Following a year of of boardroom struggles, during which time rival Schaeffler has been attempting to take over the much larger Conti, the companies recently struck a deal.

Continental’s CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann stepped down under pressure from Schaeffler, while the investor agreed to remove its chief consultant Rolf Koerfer from the head of Continental’s supervisory board.

Neumann, widely expected to return to Volkswagen, left Conti following a disagreement over the need for a substantial capital hike that would have considerably diluted the Schaeffler stake.

Industrial gas supplier Linde’s CEO Wolfgang Reitzle – once a senior executive at BMW and Ford’s Premier Automotive Group – who reportedly advised the Schaeffler family against the Conti deal, is to take over as Conti chairman and is expected to help ensure that preparations for the EUR1.5bn capital hike are also actually carried out by Schaeffler appointee Degenhart, according to Reuters.

Schaeffler’s lenders wanted a capital hike at Continental, which has debts for EUR10bn (US$14.3). Some EUR3.6bn ($US9bn) in loans matures next August.

In the worst case, the company would have to declare insolvency, which would be a disaster for Schaeffler.