In two venues, Chrysler and Fiat Auto CEO Sergio Marchionne repeated his desire to have Fiat and Chrysler joined as a single company, through a flat buyout of the retiree health care trust fund (VEBA)’s stake in the company. Earlier he had said that there was a 50-50 chance of an IPO, which would let the VEBA use the markets to set a price on their shares (at the cost of substantial attorney and advisor fees), but that he would prefer an outright buyout. Even if there is an IPO, Fiat intends to buy as much of Chrysler as it can, making Chrysler stock a good bet for speculators.
Currently, the VEBA owns 41.5% of Chrysler, but it needs cash to meet its continuing obligations to retirees. Today, from Geneva, Marchionne said that he had been in discussions with a number of bank “CEOs and chairmen who want to help” to finance a buyout of the VEBA’s share.
Which path a deal will take is, according to Marchionne, not likely to be clear until the third quarter of this year.