Chrysler Group Chief Executive Tom LaSorda on Friday said that the closing of a $7.4-billion deal for the acquisition of a majority interest in the automaker from German parent DaimlerChrysler AG is very, very close.

LaSorda, who was speaking to reporters at an event to mark the start of Chrysler's contract talks with the United Auto Workers union, said Cerberus Capital Management has the funding needed to complete its purchase of an 80-percent stake in the automaker. Commitments are there from the banks, LaSorda said.

LaSorda also said Chrysler, now the No. 4 automaker in the U.S. market, needs to close a gap in hourly labor costs with Japanese rivals making vehicles in the U.S. market.

Chrysler says its U.S. hourly labor costs, including health care, are some $30 per hour higher than equivalent costs for Japanese automakers led by Toyota Motor Corp.

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki)