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Fiat Has Cash to Complete Chrysler Acquisition

Marchionne tells shareholders he plans to skip IPO.

by on Apr.09, 2013

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sits on the hood of a new LaFerrari during the Geneva Motor Show.

Almost four years after it took effective control of the then-struggling Chrysler Group LLC, Italian automaker Fiat SpA says it has the cash in hand to complete the acquisition of its U.S. ally — and hopes to complicate the deal in little more than a year.

There had been some question about whether Fiat could complete the deal considering the financial drain it is facing in Europe, where the automotive market has fallen to its lowest level in a quarter century and most automakers are plunging deep into the red. It might be necessary, hinted Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, that the Italian side of the alliance sell off some assets to complete the takeover, however.

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Exactly what the remaining Chrysler stake will cost still depends upon resolution of a legal battle between the automaker and the United Auto Workers Union’s retiree health-care fund. Known as a VEBA, it is now the second-largest Chrysler shareholder, after Fiat. The two sides have reached an impasse over putting a value on the union holdings and a Delaware court is expected to now issue a ruling.

“If we ever reach a deal with VEBA to buy the remaining stake, we have enough cash for it,” Marchionne told investors at the annual Fiat stockholders meeting in Turin today.

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Chrysler Planning Car, Truck, Crossover Blitz

Maker expects to introduce 47 new or refreshed models over next four years.

by on Jan.31, 2013

A US version of the Alfa Romeo 4C will be one of the 47 new products coming from Fiat/Chrysler.

The only domestic automaker to gain market share in 2012, Chrysler is betting it will need a new product blitz to keep its momentum going.

And it has plenty of new cars, trucks and crossovers on the drawing board – 47 all-new or significantly refreshed models coming to market over the next four years, according to CEO Sergio Marchionne, including six from the Italian Alfa Romeo brand which is scheduled to make its return to the U.S. market late in 2013.

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“We are overspending, and we understand this. But we are doing this with a very clear agenda and a very clear intent,” Marchionne said during a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We’ve earned a lot of goodwill by providing a dramatic improvement in the quality of our products and by launching what we have launched. I still think that we need to continue to pound the ground.”

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Alfa to Return to US with 4C by Year-End

Maker also will partner with Mazda, produce Alfas in Japan.

by on Jan.18, 2013

An early prototype of the Alfa Romeo 4C.

In a seeming turnaround from comments he made just earlier this week, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed that the Alfa Romeo brand will finally make its long-anticipated return to the U.S. by year-end, launching with the new 4C sports car.

The executive also revealed that Fiat has signed a deal with Mazda that will have them produce a 2-seat new sports car at the Japanese maker’s plant starting in 2015. It will serve as an addition to Alfa’s line-up and a replacement for the aging Mazda Miata.

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“We’re finalizing the car now,” CEO Marchionne said of the new Alfa 4C, “so it should be here (in the U.S.) by the end of the year.”

The news is likely to resonate well in some circles.  Alfa Romeo was once one of the most popular Italian brand sold in this country but it abandoned the U.S. market two decades ago due to a variety of problems, including poor quality.  It has since tried a number of times to return but until now, such efforts have failed to gain traction.

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Fiat Could Close Two Plants if U.S. Return Fails

Marchionne confirms Alfa still coming to the States.

by on Feb.27, 2012

Fiat's revival in the U.S. -- as well as its operations in Italy -- could depend on the reception Americans give to the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Despite a slow start, Fiat is still betting it can stage a successful return to the U.S. market – or else, warns CEO Sergio Marchionne.  The alternative would force the closure of two of the maker’s Italian assembly plants.

The good news for Fiat is that most of its plants outside Europe – and those operated by its American partner Chrysler – are operating at full speed struggling to keep up with demand as the global economy recovers. The problem is Europe, where a weak economy has depressed the automotive market and the only way to justify keeping Fiat’s five remaining plants in Italy open is to build up exports.

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But demand in the U.S. for the maker’s little Fiat 500 sedan barely reached half the initial 50,000-unit target last year and, during a media roundtable last month, Marchionne said he doesn’t expect to see it push much higher than 30,000 in North American this year.  But some analysts think even that will be a stretch and warn Fiat’s attempt to rebuild its U.S. distribution network will fail.

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Fiat Expanding Line-up, Alfa Likely to Debut With 4C, Says U.S. Chief

Plans for Italian brands falling into shape, according to Soaves.

by on May.17, 2011

Alfa will turn to the 4C to ensure no one can miss its return to the U.S. market.

With initial demand for the little 500 exceeding expectations, Fiat is laying out plans for an expanded line-up that will bring additional models to the U.S., according to the brand’s top American executive.

Meanwhile, sibling Alfa Romeo appears ready to use a production version of the wildly popular 4C concept car to help re-launch that brand here in the U.S.

Despite a two-month delay in getting the Fiat 500 to market, this past March, sales are running ahead of expectations, according to brand boss Laura Soaves.  Demand for the manual transmission version are stretching availability of the gearbox from suppliers, she said during a dinner conversation on Monday.

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Now begins the brand’s expansion, the 500C convertible facing its big test as journalists flood into New York for a first test drive.  That will be followed by the high-performance Abarth edition and, then, a battery-powered version of the little 500.

Soaves has long suggested that what Europeans know as the Cinquecento won’t be the end-all-be-all for the U.S. version of the Fiat brand and she confirmed that another, larger model is now set to follow.  In fact, it appears several products could give Fiat a much fuller showroom over the next several years.

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