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Fiat boss eyes Chrysler merger in 2014

FIATROME, Feb 3 – Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said Sunday that he expected the merger of the Italian car giant and its US partner Chrysler will take place in 2014.

“We will succeed in doing it,” he said in an interview with the editor of the Repubblica newspaper. “We and VEBA (the United Auto Workers pension fund — a Chrysler shareholder) have different opinions on the value of Chrysler but we will resolve the problem in 2014.”

Macchione, who heads both companies, had said on January 30 that the ties between the two automakers were “irreversible” and would merge “as soon as I can afford it” but did not put date on the merger.

Asked on Sunday if Fiat would keep its Turin headquarters Macchione said: “We are a big group present throughout the world, it will depend on access to financial markets and the choices of the Agnelli family” who founded Fiat.

He had “not thought” about the future name of the new entity, he said.

The deal will ultimately give Fiat a 65 percent stake in Chrysler and full ownership by 2015.

Boosted by increased sales at Chrysler, the Italian giant on Wednesday reported a profitable 2012, announcing a fourth quarter net profit that rose to 388 million euros ($525 million) from 265 million euros the year before.

The company said it was aiming for profits of between 1.2 and 1.5 billion euros this year.

Fiat took a 20 percent stake in Chrysler in 2009 as the third largest US automaker emerged from a government-financed restructuring under bankruptcy protection.

It has since steadily expanded its stake by purchasing shares owned by the US government and the VEBA fund.

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