A public share offering for Chrysler Group LLC is more likely to occur in 2012 than this year because the automaker needs a longer track record of performance, the company's chief executive said on Friday.

Sergio Marchionne, who is also the CEO of Italian automaker Fiat SpA , added that Chrysler is looking for the equity markets to improve before an initial public offering.

I see no benefit in a 2011 IPO, Marchionne told reporters after an appearance by President Barack Obama at a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio.

A lot of it depends on how receptive the markets are and performance and what could be raised, he said. My gut would suggest no earlier than 2012.

Last year, Marchionne said an IPO was possible for the second half of 2011, but in recent months he has suggested that the timeframe could change. Marchionne's statement on Friday is the clearest sign yet that an IPO would be pushed back.

An IPO of Chrysler would allow the U.S. automaker to make money from the stake held by the VEBA, a healthcare trust affiliated with the United Auto Workers union, which owns 45.7 percent of the company.

Obama was at the Chrysler plant to hail the U.S. automaker's progress. Last week Chrysler repaid its government loans and the U.S. Treasury has reached a deal to sell its equity interest in Chrysler to Fiat for $500 million.

Fiat's stake in Chrysler will rise to 52 percent from 46 percent when the transaction closes.

What you've done has vindicated my faith, Obama told an audience of workers at the plant, which makes Jeeps.

Marchionne also said an IPO is still the easiest way to make money off the VEBA trust. Marchionne said a share offering would still be possible if Fiat were to buy that interest.

Last year, General Motors Co launched an IPO that helped cut the stake held by the U.S. Treasury.

We'd have a third automaker out of Detroit back in the capital markets, Marchionne said. Ford and GM are there. It would be good if Chrysler was back too.

(Editing by Robert MacMillan)