Marchionne Wants Fiat to Buy Chrysler As Soon As Possible image

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said the Italian company would like to see VEBA sell its Chrysler stake as soon as possible.

Currently Fiat owns 58.5% of Chrysler, while VEBA, the United Auto Workers union retiree healthcare trust, owns 41%. At the beginning of this month VEBA asked the US automaker to register 16.6% of its shares for a future public offering and trade on the stock market for the first time since 2007. Marchionne said he would be ‘more than happy’ to help make any future IPO a success, but he would prefer the Italian automaker to buy VEBA’s stake in Chrysler as soon as possible.

“The faster we do it, the better it is. It’s up to them,” said Marchionne.

VEBA has to pay medical benefits to 121,624 retired Chrysler employees and their families, besides almost 40,000 in the near future. According to the 2009 Chrysler bankruptcy agreement, retired Chrysler employees exchanged almost $7 billion of life insurance and health care liabilities for a stake in the bankrupt company besides a promissory note for $4.8 billion.

“I would love to see Chrysler go public again,” said UAW Vice President and Director General Holiefield. “The VEBA has to have the proper amount of funding to provide healthcare for our retirees.”