Fiat and Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne said he plans to ‘unify’ the two automakers by 2015, after he fixes Fiat’s finances.
“The objective has always been to try and bring unification by 2014 or 2015,” Marchionne said on a Chrysler conference call on Tuesday. “I’d still like to see that done.”
Marchionne said that the Italian automaker still plans to buy Chrysler, but that it needs to fix its financial situation, badly affected by the European crisis. To complete the purchase of Chrysler, Fiat has to buy the rest of 41.5% owned by a United Auto Workers union healthcare trust for retired Chrysler workers.
Fiat’s CEO said that the only assurance he can make is that Fiat won’t give up its plan to buy the 3.3% of Chrysler every 6 months, making use of the call option allowed in 2009 by the bankruptcy agreement with the US Treasury. Using the call option Fiat can buy up to 16.58% of Chrysler, increasing its stake to almost 75%.
Marchionne decided to retool Fiat’s troubled European operations to avoid closing plants, and therefore postpone his plans to acquire the rest of Chrysler. His plan is to get the Italian plants work at full capacity by increasing exports and focusing on higher-volume vehicles.