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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2009, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Fiat News

Fiat seeks GM Europe deal

Posted Monday, May 4, 2009, 4:11 pm in Employee News

Italy’s Fiat SpA, fresh from signing an alliance agreement with Chrysler LLC, said Sunday that it was exploring the possibility of merging its auto business and interest in Chrysler with General Motors Corp.’s European (GME) operations to create a large automotive group with more than $100 billion in annual sales, according to a number of press reports including The Detroit News.

GM declined to comment, but the struggling U.S. automaker has said it is seeking outside investors for part or all of Adam Opel, the Ruesselsheim, Germany-based carmaker that is the core of its European operations, the News said. Sources familiar with the negotiations told The News that GM would have a stake in the new company grouping Fiat, Chrysler and GME operations if a deal were concluded. With annual sales of roughly 6 million cars and trucks, the group would be one of the top three or four in the world, the paper said.

Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is scheduled to meet top German officials in Berlin today to discuss the deal amid concerns that such a combination would lead to more job losses and plant closures in Europe, according to The News. The Italian company’s board, which met Sunday to review last week’s alliance agreement with Chrysler, “expressed its full support for the initiative to be undertaken over the next few weeks by its chief executive officer, Sergio Marchionne, to assess the viability of a merger of the activities of Fiat Group Automobiles, including the interest in Chrysler, and General Motors Europe into a new company,” Fiat said. (The Detroit News)

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2009, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Fiat ready to become #2 Carmaker

Ford follower aims to be world leader


Monday 4 May 2009 20.33 BST

Fiat – never regarded as one of the great motor manufacturers – is ready to become the world's second-largest carmaker, rescuing a German and a US manufacturer along the way.

From its headquarters in Turin, the Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino wants to crystallise the international dreams of Giovanni Agnelli, who founded the company in 1899 and whose family still control about one-third of the business.

Inspired by the success of Henry Ford and his Model T, Fiat began its international expansion in the US in 1908, producing cars, vans, marine engines, lorries and trams.

By the 1990s, under the leadership of Agnelli's grandson Gianni, known as l'avvocato (the lawyer), more than 60% of sales came from abroad. But for decades the carmaker's history has been punctuated with failed deals with rivals.

In the 1960s, the Italian company tried to buy a stake in Citroën but failed after the French president, Charles de Gaulle, stopped the move for protectionist reasons. In the 1980s, it held talks with Ford to merge their European car operations but did a hasty U-turn after real*ising the men from Detroit wanted to be in the driving seat.

In 1990, Fiat, Renault and Volvo discussed a possible alliance with Chrysler – which also got nowhere. Then, in 1999, the company tried to buy Volvo's car operations but was shunted out of that deal by Ford. A year later, Fiat rejected a takeover approach from DaimlerChrysler.

In 2004, when the chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, came on board, Fiat switched its focus to efficiency and revenues, ending an unprofitable relationship with General Motors and relaunching old models such as the Cinquecento and the Panda.

The company is Italy's largest industrial group and the Agnellis also control other businesses, including Juventus football club and the Ferrari formula one team.

When the global credit crunch took hold, rising unemployment and cost cuts around the world pushed the group into the red in the first quarter of the year.

Marchionne believes consolidation is the only answer to the crisis and recently struck a deal with Chrysler to take the failed US firm out of bankruptcy proceedings. Fiat, he says, needs a partner to produce a total of 5.5–6.0m cars a year in order to survive. Last year, Fiat produced 2.15m cars and light commercial vehicles (excluding its Ferrari and Maserati supercars), a number set to increase to 4.2m vehicles after the Chrysler deal.

But warning signs have already started to emerge. In March, Standard & Poor's downgraded the company's credit rating to junk status as it "did not have enough available resources in the form of bank lines and existing cash to fully cover its financial maturities in the subsequent 12 months".

The credit-rating agency also warned there could be further downgrades if "it sees evidence that Fiat's involvement with Chrysler translates into cash outflows" or if the car market deteriorates further.

Article LINK:Ford follower aims to be world leader | Business | guardian.co.uk

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Chrysler cash from stock sale?

Chrysler cash from stock sale?

May 4th, 2009

Fiat has answered the question of how the company planned to finance its takeover of Opel at the same time it would presumably need to invest funds into Chrysler. The company now plans to take over GM Europe and create a new corporation, which would be listed on a yet-unspecified stock exchange, combining Fiat, Opel, Saab, Vauxhall, and its share of Chrysler. In return for keeping most of GM Europe’s plants running, Fiat has asked for around $7-9 billion in financing from countries with Opel and Fiat plants. The new company would keep GM as a minority shareholder, and would help to counter the flood of imports from Japan, Korea, and, eventually, China. However, it would take over Opel without taking on Opel’s debts.

Fiat Group would retain Ferrari and Maserati. (information from Automotive News)

LINK:http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php...om-stock-sale/

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Fiat shares up 8.1%

Italy April New Car Registrations -7.5% On Year; Fiat Share Up

May 04, 2009: 12:50 PM ET

ROME - Fiat SpA's automotive unit's share of the Italian automobile market rose to 35.17% in April from 32.62% in March, according to figures released Monday by Italy's Infrastructure Ministry.

Overall, Italian new car registrations in April fell 7.5% to 188,406 units from 203,750 units sold in April 2008.

Monday, Fiat shares ended 8.1% higher as investors welcomed the company's plans to spin off its car business and merge it with General Motors Corp.'s (GM) European operations.

After taking a stake in U.S. auto maker Chrysler LLC last week, Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne is seeking to separate the company's auto division and link it with Chrysler and GM's European units to create a European car giant.

Auto makers are facing a dramatic downturn in demand for new cars in many markets around the globe, which has triggered a slew of profit warnings and drastic production cutbacks in recent weeks.

LINK:Italy April New Car Registrations -7.5% On Year; Fiat Share Up

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Fiat Have Hopes

May 5, 2009
Chrysler and Fiat Have Hopes for Happy Relationship

DETROIT — When Daimler-Benz merged with Chrysler in 1998, their leaders told the world to “expect the extraordinary” from the German-American auto giant.

The expectations for Chrysler’s newly minted alliance with the Italian automaker Fiat are much less grandiose.


And partly because of its more modest promises, the Fiat-Chrysler alliance may ultimately become the success that DaimlerChrysler never was.

Automotive mergers and alliances have a poor track record and seldom yield lasting results. A long list of deals soured because of cultural differences and an inability to meld product lines and deliver on promises to cut costs.

Daimler acquired Chrysler to augment its own line of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, not to integrate their operations and products. That merger ended badly in 2007, when the German parent could no longer tolerate the losses of its American division, and sold Chrysler off to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

By contrast, Fiat and Chrysler both sell into the mass market, though with vehicles of starkly different sizes. They hope to build on their similarities, and save money in the process by sharing purchasing, engineering and distribution.

“Our goal since we first entered discussions with Chrysler nearly a year ago is to leverage the strengths of both companies to yield the scale, efficiencies and cost savings necessary to create two stronger automakers,” Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s chief executive, said last week.

Mr. Marchionne is eager to add the European operations of General Motors to the mix as well.

But first, he must avoid the same mistakes that derailed the DaimlerChrysler deal.

The German leaders of that combined company — first Jürgen E. Schrempp and then Dieter Zetsche — refused to tear down the walls that separated Chrysler from Mercedes. Instead, they tried to run Chrysler as a stand-alone division and failed to take advantage of opportunities to develop vehicles together.

Fiat executives say there is no comparison to their alliance. “For Daimler to buy Chrysler was like Neiman Marcus merging with Home Depot,” said one Fiat executive, who insisted on anonymity because of company policy. “They are a mass carmaker, and we are a mass carmaker,” he said of Fiat and Chrysler. “We know this market better.”

Fiat and Chrysler have much to offer each other. Chrysler desperately needs Fiat’s small cars and fuel-efficient engines to balance an aging lineup of S.U.V.’s.

For Fiat, Chrysler offers an instant dealership network for its return to the United States. They can also benefit from savings on the $46 billion worth of parts and materials they would buy as a combined entity.

Chrysler’s prospects are far worse now than when Robert Eaton, then its chairman, sold the company to Daimler. In the late 1990s, Chrysler was enormously profitable and determined to grow in tandem with Daimler.

Now Chrysler is bankrupt, and Fiat is its only hope.

Since it was sold in 2007, Chrysler has pursued a merger, alliance or joint ventures with several automakers, including G.M., Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai, according to documents filed in the company’s bankruptcy case in New York.

None of the overtures worked, including a last-ditch attempt in February to drum up interest from Chinese automakers in Chrysler’s assets and product lines.

“Despite continual efforts over the course of approximately two and a half years, no party except Fiat has emerged as a viable and willing alliance partner for us,” Thomas LaSorda, a Chrysler vice chairman, said in a court affidavit.

From the first discussions between Mr. LaSorda and Mr. Marchionne in March 2008, it was clear that the interests of the two companies were well aligned.

“The two companies were ideally matched,” Mr. LaSorda said in his affidavit. He added that joining with Fiat would “solve strategic problems that Chrysler has been wrestling with for years.”

Under Daimler’s control, Chrysler lost its knack for reading consumer tastes and delivering timely products, like the original minivan and its first Jeep Grand Cherokee. An Italian union leader, Giorgio Airaudo, said that Fiat did not operate that way.

“The German managerial system is more rigid, hierarchical,” Mr. Airaudo said. Mr. Marchionne has vowed not to stifle Chrysler’s designers and engineers, or overwhelm its executives with demands from Italy.

“The mentality of Chrysler is closer to the Italians,” said Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

Mr. Dudenhöffer said that DaimlerChrysler was crippled by the endless committees that Mr. Schrempp and others favored in the decision-making process. “All they did was find arguments about why thing wouldn’t work,” he said.

Fiat also will not be taking over Chrysler from top to bottom as Daimler did upon acquiring it in a $36 billion stock deal.

Initially, Fiat will have only a 20 percent stake in Chrysler, although it can increase its ownership to 35 percent by meeting benchmarks set by the Treasury Department.

And Mr. Marchionne has signaled that he will see Chrysler facilities himself before making changes to plants and products.

“Over the coming weeks and months, I will be spending a great deal of time meeting with Chrysler employees and touring its facilities,” he said.

Experts in Italy said it was unlikely that Fiat would succumb to the overconfidence that Daimler exhibited when it took over Chrysler.

“In this unforeseeable situation for the world economy, everybody is under pressure to be humble,” said Mario Monti, president of Bocconi University in Milan. “They shouldn’t have inferiority complexes either.”

LINK:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/business/05auto.html

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Fiat defends proposed Opel partnership

Fiat’s Marchionne defends proposed Opel partnership

Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 11:20 am in Employee News

A Fiat tie-up with General Motors Corp.’s Opel unit would allow “immense” cost savings, the Italian auto maker’s boss was quoted today as saying, arguing the two companies would be a good fit, the Associated Press reported.

Fiat Group SpA is trying to build a global automaking powerhouse, the AP said. Last week, it struck a deal that eventually could give it a controlling interest in Chrysler LLC. Now it is negotiating to buy GM’s main European unit, which includes the Opel, Vauxhall and Saab brands, the news services said.

In an interview published by the Bild daily a day after he presented his plan to German officials, Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne dismissed suggestions that Fiat and Opel — both of which focus on small cars in Europe — would fit poorly, the AP said. “The models fit together very well and complement each other,” Marchionne was quoted as saying. “But what is more important is that we can build cars on a common platform and so save immense costs.” (Associated Press/Detroit Free Press)

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Fiat gets $35 million if Chrysler deal crumbles

May 5, 2009

Fiat gets $35 million if Chrysler deal crumbles



NEW YORK -- Italian automaker Fiat S.p.A. isn’t putting any cash into the alliance with Chrysler LLC – but if the deal falls apart or some other rescuer swoops in, Fiat will get $35 million from Chrysler.

While such breakup fees are common any time one company purchases another, Chrysler’s rescue by the Obama administration through bankruptcy court is anything but common. Chrysler’s attorneys have asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez to approve the fee as part of the sale process, a motion the judge will begin considering later this afternoon.

Chrysler said the fee was necessary for Fiat to take part in the deal.

The fee “recognizes the enormity of the effort made by Fiat in the complex, multiparty negotiations” Chrysler said in a filing supporting the sale.

“The proposed sale represents a unique and monumental undertaking necessitating the expenditure of significant amounts of resources for due diligence and analysis, as well as negotiation and drafting of the Purchase Agreement and numerous other transaction documents.”

While Fiat isn't committing cash to the deal, Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Ron Kolka said Monday in court that the present value of the engineering and technical resources Fiat has pledged to the Chrysler alliance over the next several years totaled $6.9 billion.

Freep.com | Detroit Business | Detroit Free Press

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Fiat boldly goes where no one else

Fiat boldly goes where no one else has succeeded

May 05, 2009


Here's the wonky new soup-to-nuts empire of wildly diverse auto brands that Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat SpA, proposes to build with his negotiations to gain control of Chrysler LLC and the Opel division of General Motors Corp.:

Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Opel, Iveco (trucks), Case New Holland (farm equipment).

Here's the bloated brand portfolio of GM, before it began shedding most of its brands in order to survive:

Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, GMC, Opel, Saab, Saturn, Hummer, Daewoo.

Here's the failed, full-range strategy of Ford Motor Co., before it began shedding most of its brands in order to survive:

Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Volvo, Mazda, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover.

And here's the brand line-up of thriving BMW AG (that is, thriving when the global industry isn't in its current funk of a 27-year low in North American vehicle sales in 2008):

BMW, Mini Cooper.

And of Toyota Motor Corp., now the world's largest automaker:

Toyota, Lexus.

And of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.:

Honda, Acura.

And of Suzuki Motor Corp.:

Suzuki.

These more single-suited firms are believers in Mark Twain's dictim; "Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket."

Marchionne's growth-strategy rationale is identical to the disastrous ones of Jacques Nasser, fired as CEO of Ford after doting on his new, low-volume toys Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin – while the core North American business went down the toilet.

It's identical to Jurgen Schrempp's king-of-the-world strategy in transforming Daimler-Benz AG from a consistently profitable luxury automaker into a multicultural, money-losing mess in creating DaimlerChrysler AG and buying a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Schrempp was eased out after Daimler wrote off the entire $36 billion (U.S.) cost of acquiring Chrysler.

And it's similar to that of then-BMW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder's brainwave to expand beyond BMW's core competency into mid-market cars and off-road vehicles with his ill-fated acquisition of Britain's Rover Group. That cost Pischetsrieder his job four years later when BMW wisely cut its Rover losses, dumping the firm and writing off its investment.

For Marchionne, volume is everything. Size and economies of scale trump all. Marchionne is convinced that only six giant, global vehicle makers will remain by 2020 – and aims to be among them. Never mind that this strategy has been proved wrong every time it's been tried, dating from Renault SA's unhappy move to purchase control of an incurable American Motors Corp. in the late 1970s.

Fiat's own technology places it at or near the bottom of European vehicle quality surveys.

Chrysler was stripped of its technological prowess by Daimler. Opel is a distant also-ran to mid-market rival Volkswagen AG in Germany and is even less competitive elsewhere on the continent.

Fiat does not have the money to fix Chrysler or Opel. The latter is seeking a $4.3 billion bailout, while Marchionne wants German government-backed loans of up to $6.9 billion to finance the GM Europe deal.

All of this is why Fiat, a basket case itself only five years ago, is paying nothing for its 20 per cent stake in bankrupt Chrysler.

And in relieving desperate seller GM of Opel, Fiat aims to gain control of that weak brand for next to nothing.

Fiat, which lost heaps of money in the first quarter and likely won't end the year in the black, cannot pay real money for the brands it is acquiring. Where will it get cash to overhaul the unappealing product lines of Chrysler and Opel?

And Marchionne, with only five years' experience in the auto industry, thinks he can succeed with a stable of ailing brands strung across three continents with varying local tastes?

For now, we've been talking about the survival prospects of Chrysler. When the mess Marchionne is creating is dismantled (sans Marchionne, as the pattern goes), we'll be talking, as we did five years ago, about the survival of Fia

Article Link:TheStar.com | Business | Fiat boldly goes where no one else has succeeded

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Cost: 10,000 jobs in Europe and Britain

General Motors' European plants in peril over Fiat bid

05/05/2009

Fiat's plans to take over General Motors Europe to create the world's second largest car firm would cost up to 10,000 jobs in Europe and Britain, according to a senior union leader who met Sergio Marchionne, the Italian firm's chief executive, .

Klaus Franz, the labour leader of Opel, GM's German arm, told Reuters that Marchionne confirmed that plants in the UK, Germany and Italy would close if the rescue deal took place. But he did not specify whether the UK plants in Luton or *Ellesmere Port would be axed.

The German government has taken the lead in talks with GM Europe's US parent about hiving off the European subsidiary into a separate company and the possible deal with Fiat, which emerged at the weekend. Opel has about 26,000 workers in Germany.

Union leaders in Britain are concerned that the involvement of the German government, and now the Italians, could result in more job losses in the UK. Elections are looming in Germany which would make Angela Merkel's government keen to limit German job losses resulting from any restructuring.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the Unite union, urged the British government to take a more active role in negotiations to safeguard 5,000 jobs in the UK, including at the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside.

"The government is quick with promises and very slow on delivery," he said. "I'm genuinely concerned that this government and other European governments are not working together. If we are out of the loop by a day or two anyone could cut a deal which would be disastrous for Britain."

Barack Obama has given GM a deadline until the end of the month to come up with a restructuring plan to save it from collapse. As part of the project, GM will spin off its European subsidiary, which says it needs €3.3bn (£2.9bn) investment to stay afloat and wants to attract an outside investor to take a majority stake. GM Europe reckons that cost savings of $1.2bn (£800m) are needed to return the car *company to profit.

A preferred bidder could be announced within a fortnight. As well as Fiat, up to six unnamed bidders, including private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds, are in the running. Any new owner will make huge cuts to reduce overcapacity and losses.

European governments are in talks with GM Europe about providing finance and loan guarantees to the new company. GM UK has requested £600m in loan guarantees from the British government, but this backing will not be provided until it becomes clear what shape the new company takes. It wants a new hybrid car, the Ampera, to be built at the Ellesmere Port factory. But a take- over by Fiat, which specialises in making small, fuel-efficient cars, could jeopardise this.

GM UK is understood to be concerned about the ability of Fiat, which has net industrial debt of €6.6bn, to revive the European subsidiary. GM Europe executives, who are having to take a back seat in discussions with Fiat, are said to prefer a tie-up with Canadian parts maker Magna. But Magna indicated it would only be prepared to take a 20% stake in GM Europe

LINK:General Motors's European plants in peril over Fiat's bid | Business | guardian.co.uk

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Fiat to halt some production in June

Fiat to halt some production in June
Wed May 6, 2009 12:18pm EDT

TURIN, Italy, May 6

- Fiat will suspend production of truck parts for a week in June in the latest measure to keep costs in check in the market downturn, a source at the Italian industrial group said on Wednesday.

The production of axles and gear boxes for Iveco trucks will remain suspended between June 1 and June 7, sending 1,500 workers home on reduced pay, the source told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the production of engines will be halted for one day -- June 1 -- keeping nearly 1,000 workers at home, the source added.

Iveco is a brand within the Fiat group.

LINK:Fiat to halt some production in June | Industries | Consumer Goods & Retail | Reuters

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