Canadian Manufacturing

Marchionne to lead Fiat-Chrysler for at least 3 years, chairman says

John Elkann told reporters Sergio Marchionne will stay on as CEO of companies through 2016



DETROIT—Sergio Marchionne will lead a merged Chrysler and Fiat at least for three more years, Fiat’s chairman said.

Speaking to reporters after the unveiling of a new midsize Chrysler car at the Detroit auto show, chairman John Elkann told reporters that he has a deal with Marchionne to stay at least through 2016.

Italian automaker Fiat SpA announced Jan. 1 that it reached a deal to acquire the remaining shares of Chrysler from a union trust fund for $3.65-billion.

Fiat had previously owned 58.5 per cent of the Detroit automaker.

Elkann says Marchionne built the two companies into one and has made sure they work together.

“I think what we are going to see now that the two companies are finally together forever, they’re going to build on that strength into a much stronger sole company,” he said.

Marchionne, 61, who spends much of his life on a corporate jet shuttling between Italy and Michigan, said during the summer of 2011 that he planned to retire around 2015 or 2016.

The new deal with Elkann would extend that time frame somewhat.

Marchionne said his eventual successor likely would come internally, from his management committee.

According to Marchionne, the Fiat board will discuss where to locate the newly merged company when it meets on Jan. 29.

Fiat SpA is headquartered in Turin, Italy, while Chrysler is in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Where to place the corporate headquarters is a major decision.

Fiat got control of Chrysler after the U.S. government bailed the company out of bankruptcy protection.

But Fiat is Italy’s largest private employer and a source of national pride, so moving the headquarters out of the country would be difficult.

“The question is domicile and what it does going forward,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne also said there will be no initial public stock offering of the new company because Fiat stock is already publicly traded.

But Fiat shares, now traded in Italy, may have to be moved to a U.S. exchange if the company locates in Michigan.

Marchionne said the next challenges for the new company are to re-launch its premium brands, Alfa Romeo and Maserati; continue work upgrading U.S. manufacturing operations; and to quickly turn Jeep into an international brand.

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