Italian carmaker Fiat SpA (BIT:F) owns 58.5% of Chrysler Group LLC; now it’s in the process of acquiring the financing to buy the rest of the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based maker of the Chrysler 200 entry-level luxury sedan, Dodge Dart and Ram pickup truck.
The $10 billion deal would place the American automaker fully in Italian control and would require the United Auto Workers' health-care trust fund to sell its stake in the company. The deal is expected to close by the end of the summer.
Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), BNP Paribas SA (EPA:BNP), Deutsche Bank AG (FRA:DBK) and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) are involved in the financing negotiations, which includes the refinancing of Chrysler’s and Fiat’s debts, according to Bloomberg.
Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the deal at the Geneva auto show in March, but at the time he wouldn’t comment on its price tag. In January, Fiat upped its stake in Chrysler from 53.5 percent to 58.5 percent after Chrysler fulfilled one of its commitments that was required for it to get its $7.6 billion 2009 U.S. and Canadian taxpayer-fuelled bailout: to build the Dodge Dart with a fuel efficiency rate of 40 mpg in the U.S. The vehicle, which debuted at the Detroit auto show in January, is assembled in Belvidere, Ill. Chrysler paid back the bailout money in 2011, which was another requirement Chrysler had to satisfy before Fiat could acquire majority control of the company.
Once Fiat secures the entire company, it could then raise cash with a Chrysler IPO. Chrysler ceased being a publicly listed company after German automaker Daimler AG unloaded it on a private equity firm in 2007.
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Meanwhile, many Italians feel that Fiat is pulling up its roots and heading West, despite repeated denials by Marchionne that his company's headquarters will eventually relocate to a Detroit suburb. Fiat is a major industrial company in Italy, and a departure from its home base in Torino, Italy, would strike a blow to Italy's tax revenue.
Those concerns were elevated this week when Fiat announced plans to merge two of its largest industrial subsidiaries: CNH Global NV (NYSE:CNH), based in Schiphol, Netherlands, and Fiat Industrial SpA (BIT:FIP), based in Torino. CNH makes agricultural and construction equipment; Fiat Industrial produces trucks and tractors. The new company plans to call London its home and tax base. The move relocates Fiat Industrial to the U.K.
On Thursday, John Elkann, the CEO of Fiat Industrial’s primary shareholder, Italian investment holding company EXOR SpA (BIT:EXO), told shareholders the deal would close between July 4 and Sept. 1, according to Reuters. The move elicited harsh rebukes in the Italian press, with some claiming that Fiat Industrial’s shift to the U.K. would cost Rome €500 million ($645 million) in tax revenue a year.
Fiat Industrial fired back in a May 22 communiqué, saying the figure is the total sum the company pays in taxes, and that only 5 percent of it goes to the Italian treasury, totalling about €25 million.