Marchionne Says Fiat Close to Acquiring Chrysler image

Fiat made another move to speed up the acquisition of Chrysler and put an end to a 4-year effort to merge the two automakers.

Fiat announced it had exercised an option to purchase another 3.3% of Chrysler, placing a value with 82% more than a disputed earlier tranche. That agreement has been held up by a court in the US as VEBA, the union trust which owns the shares, wanted a higher price. Fiat plans to reach a deal with VEBA “as soon as possible,” according to both automakers’ CEO Sergio Marchionne.

The Italian automaker currently owns 58.5% of Chrysler and VEBA, a medical-benefits trust for the U.S. carmaker’s retirees, owns the rest of 41.5%. In mid-2012 Fiat began exercising options to purchase stakes of a little more than 3.3% from VEBA every six months under an acquisition deal. Those shares are still to be taken as a judge in Delaware has not decided yet upon a price for them.

Fiat is willing to pay $254.7 million for the latest stake in the US automaker, but the price is still under what VEBA has calculated. The trust considers that the first 3.3% stake is worth $342 million, while Fiat says that it is $139.7 million. The stock acquired through these three options exercised until now have increased Fiat’s holding to 68.5%.

Source: Bloomberg