Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, is nothing if not cagey. When he outmaneuvered the White House in 2009 to strike a great deal to take over Chrysler with U.S. government loans, it was considered a forgone conclusion that he would eventually take the company public in an initial public offering. Now, the CEO says the odds of an IPO are merely 50-50.
Marchionne says an IPO will be most likely if Fiat can't buy out the 41% stake in Chrysler held by the United Auto Workers health care trust. But, says Marchionne, he would prefer to see the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker merge completely with Italian automaker Fiat. Marchionne has been CEO of both companies since Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.
"My preference is to be one single company," Marchionne told reporters in Kokomo, Ind., on Thursday. "We belong together." Over the last four years, the two automakers have been blending their operations as Fiat has increased its stake in Chrysler, he noted. And the combination of the two automakers' product development and design has yielded superior financial results, as well as a group of new vehicles that have been met with enthusiasm from both the media and the public.
On Jan. 30, Marchionne said this about the IPO prospect. "In the absence internally of any [solution] at Fiat [to buy the UAW stake], we will be more than happy to accompany [the health care trust] to an initial public offering."
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