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Fiat Chrysler dreams of October 1 NYSE float

Marchionne says Europe's auto market not yet healthy

04 March, 19:57
Fiat Chrysler dreams of October 1 NYSE float (By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Rome, March 4 - Sergio Marchionne said Tuesday that his hope is to see his Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) listed on New York's premier stock market on October 1, but acknowledged there is still much work to be done.

Still, the chief executive officer of the combined Italian-American group, who realized an earlier dream of creating an international auto player, said he is determined the company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange this year.

"If it's not October 1, it'll be November 1 or December 1," said Marchionne at the Geneva Motor Show. By listing on the New York Stock Exchange, FCA will be more widely traded and better able to raise capital.

Fiat gained full control of Chrysler in a $4.35-billion deal with a United Auto Workers union healthcare trust.

The world's seventh-biggest automaker will have its headquarters in the Netherlands, maintain a UK tax base, and will be listed on the New York and Milan stock markets. Despite all of that international exposure, Fiat has not abandoned its roots in Italy, said Marchionne, who hatched the audacious idea to take over the Detroit automaker after Fiat rescued bankrupt Chrysler amid the US economic crisis in 2009.

"Fiat has never left Italy, we are moving internationally," but (Fiat) will not turn its back on its origins, said Marchionne.

The date for the presentation of the Italian-American group's industrial plan had been set provisionally for May 6, he added. That plan should also include ideas for the development of a Maserati plant near Modena while also maintaining production of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo models in Italy.

"It's not a nationalistic thing, but there are some things that belong to a place," Marchionne said.

"Alfa Romeo belongs to Italy, as Maserati and Ferrari do".

Meanwhile, Marchionne warned that Europe's auto market has not yet recovered from years of economic struggles that have contributed to six years of weakness in auto sales.

"The crisis is still here," Marchionne warned.

He was commenting on auto sales figures from February, which showed signs of recovery - even in countries that had been hit hard by the eurozone debt crisis including Italy.

Industry data showed car sales in Germany, Italy and Spain rose last month, although they dipped in France. However, sales have remained healthy enough in North America that the Chrysler side of the new company has helped to keep Fiat alive. In the United States, FCA said that truck sales in February helped to boost overall figures to show an 11% increase, or almost 155,000 vehicles.

Marchionne also said that FCA is talking with the Canadian government about renewing an agreement that would see Ottawa provide subsidies in return for continued investments in auto plants in Canada. Five years ago, Chrysler received almost $3 billion Cdn from Ottawa to stay in business and now says it must have more assistance to continue producing minivans and other vehicles in Canada.

Marchionne said he will make an announcement in the next few days about continuing operations in Ontario.

"The decision has already been made and will be made known in 24 to 48 hours," the Italian-Canadian Marchionne said Tuesday morning. "The thing that I regret is that (the issue) has become political and ideological," he said.

Meanwhile, Marchionne said his firm would not benefit much from Italian government plans for labour reform but said that he supported new Premier Matteo Renzi in his efforts.

"It is necessary to reduce the tax burden to encourage the country," said Marchionne of one of the provisions contained in Renzi's Jobs Act, a package of measures to promote business investment and improve labour market efficiency while cutting relevant taxes.

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