Fiat gets Chrysler, while Opel goes to pieces

Fiat gets Chrysler, while Opel goes to pieces

Much of the spotlight has been on the GM restructuring but meanwhile Fiat has dipped out on Opel. Large chunks have gone to parts supplier Magna and to a Russian company. But Fiat did score Chrysler.

Chrysler LLC's request to sell substantially all of its operations to Chrysler Group LLC, the new company formed in alliance with Fiat SpA, has been approved by the US Bankruptcy Court.

"With this approval, the new Chrysler Group is created and can prepare to launch as a vibrant new company formed with Fiat," said Robert L. Nardelli, chairman and chief executive officer of Chrysler LLC.

Nardelli says that the revamped Chrysler Group will soon begin operations with significant strategic advantages, a reduction of debt and interest expense, the disposition of idle assets, a rationalised and more efficient dealer network, and sound agreements with suppliers.

Chrysler's Mexican, Canadian and other international operations will also be acquired by Chrysler Group.

The deal will give Fiat a rails-run access to the vast US market with its fuel-efficient small cars - the right cars for the current era. It is expected to introduce the first of its products - in all likelihood the 500 model - as soon as next year.

Meanwhile bankrupt GM's European subsidiary, never large enough to go it alone, will pass into the hands of several joint owners. North American parts manufacturer Magna will own 20 per cent. GM is retaining 35 per cent, Russia's Sberbank will have 35 per cent and Opel employees will own 10 per cent.

Russian carmaker GAZ has struck an 'industrial partnership' arrangement with the new owners of Vauxhall with the target of building a 20 per cent share of the growing Russian car market.

Fiat, an earlier suitor and favoured to acquire Opel, was ultimately passed over.

The new ownership of GM of Europe raises many questions including where it will now source their engines for future models.

Also, Magna's existing relationships with car makers including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen and BMW maybe threatened by fears that the Opel ownership is a conflict of interest.

Chrysler Australia has welcomed the completion of the new structure and ownership arrangements.

"We are very pleased with today's announcement and the opportunities that it brings to our company," said Gerry Jenkins, managing director, Chrysler Australia.

"At this stage, It is too early to comment or speculate about how the integration with Fiat might apply in our Australia or New Zealand regarding all aspects of the operation including dealer body and distribution."

Jenkins says the alliance with Fiat provides Chrysler Group with access to exciting products that complement the company's current portfolio, technology cooperation and stronger global distribution. Work with Fiat is already well underway to develop the next generation of environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient high-quality vehicles.

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