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Chrysler-Fiat deal would spawn new look for U.S. automaker

Mon, 13 Apr 2009

As Chrysler LLC negotiates an alliance with Fiat S.p.A. that would satisfy the Obama administration, sources say the companies are discussing a revised ownership structure, a new board and possibly a different management team for Chrysler.

Among the options being discussed is a direct role in Chrysler's operations for Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne--possibly even the chief executive's job.

Sources close to the merger negotiations say that after completing the deal, the plan is to elect a seven-member Chrysler board that would include representatives from Fiat and possibly President Barack Obama's automotive task force.

But the companies face major obstacles in getting the deal done. The ownership of the future Chrysler is still subject to complex negotiations involving Cerberus Capital Management LP, Daimler AG, the UAW and the big banks that hold Chrysler's debt.

A person familiar with the negotiations said the new management structure would divide the roles of CEO and chairman between two executives. The job of Chrysler chairman would be held by an American, the source said.

Since 2007, Chrysler's chairman and CEO jobs have been held by Bob Nardelli, appointed by Cerberus.

On March 30, Obama gave Chrysler and Fiat until the end of April to prove their alliance is workable. The government then would grant Chrysler up to $6 billion in additional loans. Chrysler already has received $4 billion.

Obama impressed

Marchionne (mar-kee-OHN'-nay)

By Luca Ciferri- Automotive News