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Fiat/CNH deal may show future of Fiat/Chrysler

Iveco Daily

Recently, the board of CNH Gloval N.V. (Case New Holland) agreed to merge with Fiat Industrial, which already owned 90% of CNH.

CNH is a registered as a Netherlands corporation, but its operational headquarters is in Burr Ridge, Illinois. The combined company will remain a Netherlands corporation, taking Fiat Industrial’s legal base out of Italy, though it is unlikely that any people or facilities will actually move. Due to several advantages, including access to capital, it’s likely the headquarters of the combined operation will remain in the United States. This is an advantage Fiat Industrial chairman Sergio Marchionne pointed out in discussions of possibly transferring the headquarters of the combined Fiat and Chrysler operations to the U.S. (Chrysler remains a U.S. corporation chartered in Delaware).

CNH makes agricultural and construction equipment, using the CNH, Case IH, Case, and New Holland brands. It also owns Kobelco, which makes excavators and Steyr, an Austrian manufacturer of agricultural tractors. Fiat Industrial split from Fiat S.p.A. in 2010, and makes Iveco trucks, such as the Daily van, and Fiat Powertrain components. The merged businesses will become the world’s third-largest capital goods manufacturing company. Total revenue from combined operations was nearly $27.7 billion in 2011. Current market capitalization of CNH Holdings is $11.32 billion.

The new company will have its primary listing in the New York Stock Exchange, with a secondary listing in Milan.

The CNH deal may signal how Fiat will handle its eventual merger with Chrysler. The nominal headquarters could be in the Netherlands, or any other convenient country (e.g. a postal box in the Cayman Islands); while the actual headquarters could be in Detroit, convenient to two major markets (North America and Brazil), or in Italy. In any case, the Fiat brand and small car development would almost certainly remain headquartered in Turin, while Chrysler brands and compact to large car development would remain in Auburn Hills.

Bill Cawthon contributed to this story.

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