In order to see through the full merger of the Italian carmaker and its U.S. business and a new strategy to turn around its loss-making operations in Europe, Sergio Marchionne has pledged to stay on as chief executive of Fiat-Chrysler for at least another three years.
After striking a $4.35 billion deal to buy out a minority shareholder from Chrysler, the 61-year-old now has the delicate task of listing the new company and probably establishing its headquarters outside Fiat’s home country of the last 115 years.
Marchionne, who took the helm of Fiat a decade ago and in 2009 also started running Chrysler, had previously said he could step down in 2015 and some analysts feared uncertainty over his future at the combined company could cloud its prospects.
The CEO told a press conference at the Detroit auto show the size of Chrysler’s operations and U.S. financial market liquidity “makes Detroit especially relevant” as the board prepares to discuss the merged company’s headquarters at a meeting on January 29.
“We’re sufficiently large now … to need access to very fluid, efficient capital markets,” Marchionne said. “That will probably be the single largest driver of the decision that will be made by the board on January 29.” The formal merger of the two companies is expected to be completed by January 20.
He played down the consequences of the decision for jobs or strategy, adding it would have “almost negligible” effects on employment. Italy’s government has been following the merger talks very closely for any signs that Fiat’s presence in its home market could lessen and lead to job cuts. The company currently employs around 62,000 people in Italy.
Fiat Chairman John Elkann, the scion of the Agnelli family that controls the Italian carmaker, also said on Monday that he would remain as chairman of the merged group.