Interesting question: where is the new Fiat/Chrysler going to live? image

With Fiat’s takeover of Chrysler nearly complete, one big question remains unanswered: where will the headquarters of the newly combined companies be located?

Fiat represents an enormous part of Italy’s industrial heritage, but Chrysler/Fiat chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne is looking for ways to finesse the issue and put the combined company’s headquarters in Detroit.

Prior to the announcement of the deal to merge the two companies before the end of January, executives from Chrysler/Fiat had noted privately the number of people involved in shifting the reconstructed companies to the U.S. would be relatively few.

The headquarters staff could easily fit into Chrysler House, the maker’s refurbished offices in Detroit. The headquarters staff would be relatively small, a few dozen at most, while the Chrysler and Fiat groups would remain based in Auburn Hills, Mich., outside of Detroit, and Turin, Italy, Fiat’s historic home.

The integration will merge the finances of the two groups and personnel are expected to flow back and forth between Chrysler and Fiat and areas such as purchasing and research and development will be more tightly merged as well as strategy and planning.

Fiat, however, took one step towards loosening its ties to Italy as Fiat Industrial’s board of directors met this week and approved a merger of its principal Dutch and Italian subsidiaries.

The Board of Directors approved the cross-border merger of the wholly owned subsidiary Fiat Netherlands Holding N.V. with and into Fiat Industrial SpA, the company said in a brief statement. The merged company is expected to reside neither in the Netherlands or Italy, but in England for tax purposes, Fiat officials said.

The betting is Fiat Industrial’s move to London will serve as a prelude to Fiat shifting the headquarters of its automotive business to Detroit when the merger with Chrysler is finally complete. Officials from Fiat automotive have said moving its headquarters “was not on the agenda,” but that leaves open the question of where the merged entity might decide to locate.