Representatives of Chrysler bidder Kirk Kerkorian have met with a group of Chrysler workers who have separately proposed an employee stock ownership plan for the automaker, according to reports.

Reuters noted that the meeting follows a US$4.5bn offer for Chrysler from Kerkorian’s investment arm, Tracinda Corp., which said it would consider giving United Auto Workers, Chrysler’s largest union, a “substantial share of equity” as part of the deal.

The report added that Chrysler’s German parent, DaimlerChrysler, has been meeting with potential buyers for its US unit, including private equity firms Cerberus Capital Management, Blackstone Group and Magna International.

Citing ‘people familiar with the matter’ Reuters reported that Tracinda representatives met with an employee buyout group in Toledo, Ohio over the weekend, and that the talks were in an early stage.

The employee buyout committee has separately sent a formal proposal to DaimlerChrysler, offering to take a 70% stake in the automaker over a period of five years or more on behalf of its roughly 50,000 US factory workers.

Tracinda, which sees areas of common interest between its offer and the proposed employee buyout, wants to leave the door open to further discussions with the UAW group, according to the report.

DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche is expected to meet with labor groups this week, when UAW President Ron Gettelfinger plans to ask the German automaker to hang on to Chrysler and allow it to go through its restructuring.