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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fiat increasing ownership stake in Chrysler

Chrysler LLC has announced that Fiat's ownership interest has increased to 25%, up from the initial 20% stake given to Fiat at the beginning of the merger.

This increase was the result of Fiat reaching a significant milestone set out in the merger agreement of building the FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotized Engine) family of engines in the United States. FIRE production began in November and is the engine that equips the new Fiat 500. You can read more about this in a story I did last October (click here).

Fiat can up their ownership level an additional 10%, done in two separate 5% increments by next; distributing Chrysler vehicles outside of NAFTA and producing a Chrysler vehicle in the US based on Fiat technology capable of achieving 40mpg.

Here is an excerpt of the official Fiat/Chrysler agreement:

"...Fiat will have right to receive up to an additional 15% equity interest (by vote and value) on a fully diluted basis. This stake can be obtained in three tranches of 5% each subject to the achievement of predetermined targets, in particular, achievement of regulatory approvals to produce the FIRE family of engines in the USA; achievement of sales of Chrysler vehicles outside NAFTA, and achievement of regulatory approval to produce a Chrysler model based on Fiat technology. Upon obtainment of such additional 15% interest, Fiat will also have the right to appoint another director of Chrysler..."

Fiat also has the option of becoming the majority stake holder (51%), but only after all the government loans are repaid. Current plans call for that to happen by 2014. However, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants Chrysler to go public sometime next year, so Fiat might repay the government loans early and grab the 51% before the IPO happens. This would save Fiat a considerable amount of money.

We'll have to see how that plays out. In the meantime, read the official Chrysler press release sent out yesterday:

Chrysler Group LLC Meets First of Three Performance Events; Fiat Increases Ownership to 25 Percent

January 10, 2011, Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group today announced that Fiat's ownership interest in the Company has increased from 20 percent to 25 percent upon the Company’s achievement of the first of three performance-related milestones.

As outlined in its June 10, 2009 Operating Agreement, Chrysler Group issued an irrevocable commitment letter to the U.S. Treasury stating that the Company has received the appropriate governmental approvals and will begin commercial production of the Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE) in its Dundee, Mich., facility. As a result, Fiat’s ownership interest increased automatically under the terms of the Operating Agreement.

The ownership interests of Chrysler Group’s members are now:
UAW VEBA 63.5 percent
Fiat 25.0 percent
U.S. Treasury 9.2 percent
Canadian Governments 2.3 percent

The first North American application of the 1.4-liter FIRE engine with MultiAir Technology will be in the new Fiat 500, which Chrysler Group will begin to distribute soon through newly appointed dealers.

Fiat has the opportunity to further increase its ownership in Chrysler to 35 percent, in 5 percent increments, through two additional performance-related milestones. The first milestone relates to revenue and sales growth outside of the NAFTA region. The second milestone relates to commercial production in the United States of a 40-mile-per-gallon vehicle based on Fiat platform technology.

Chrysler Media

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