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.
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.