Fiat's merger with Chrysler expected in 2014: CEO

Rome, Feb 4 (IANS) Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that he expects to complete the merger of the Italian carmaker with its US partner Chrysler in 2014.

"We will succeed in doing it," Marchionne said in an interview Sunday with the chief editor of La Repubblica national newspaper.

"With Veba (the United Auto Workers union retiree health benefits fund, a Chrysler shareholder) we have different opinions on the value of Chrysler but will solve the problem in 2014," he added.

Asked whether the group will maintain its headquarters in Italy's Turin or elsewhere, Marchionne said that Fiat "has a large presence everywhere in the world and this will depend on access to financial markets and the choice of the Agnelli family (founder of the group)", reported Xinhua.

Whether the group will be called Fiat or Chrysler in the future, Marchionne said it has been not decided yet, but reassured that all the Italian workers presently employed will be kept.

Fiat took control of Chrysler in 2009 as the third largest US automaker emerged from a government-financed restructuring under bankruptcy protection.

After winning a 20 percent stake in exchange for sharing technology and leadership, it expanded its control by purchasing shares owned by the American government and Veba.

The Italian carmaker has exercised two call options on obtaining shares from Veba, which will ultimately raise its holding to 65 percent from the current 58.5 percent.

Marchionne's comments came following his announcement in January that the ties between the two automakers were "irreversible", after Fiat closed 2012 with a net income of more than 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) boosted by Chrysler.

Last year, the Fiat-controlled carmaker reported a profit of $1.7 billion, sharply higher than the $183 million in 2011, with a turnover increased by 20 percent to $65.8 billion in 2012 compared to $55 billion the previous year.

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