By Jim Hagerty
Chrysler workers, including those at the Belvidere Assembly Plant, will soon be fully employed by Fiat, as the Italian automaker announced Thursday, Jan. 2, it will purchase the Detroit company it merged with almost five years ago.
Fiat will pay $3.65 billion for the 41.46 percent of Chrysler it didn’t acquire in the merger.
The deal is expected to be finalized Jan. 20, and also includes a $700 million company contribution to the UAW benefits trust over the next four years. The union agrees to drop a Delaware lawsuit brought against Fiat shortly after the merger.
“The unified ownership structure will now allow us to fully execute our vision of creating a global automaker that is truly unique in terms of mix of experience, perspective and know-how, a solid and open organization that will ensure all employees a challenging and rewarding environment,” Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.
The Fiat-Chrysler merger began in 2009, when Chrysler emerged from a $1.38 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy that transferred its ownership to the U.S. and Canadian governments and the UAW pension fund. Fiat became the majority shareholder in 2011.
Since the merger, Chrysler has returned to profitability, including what analysts are calling a banner 2013. According to early figures, Chrysler sold more than 2.6 million vehicles worldwide last year, 18 percent more than 2012, and a 70 percent improvement from 2010.
Current Chrysler product lines include Chrysler luxury sedans, Dodge cars, vans and SUVs, and Jeep. The Belvidere Assembly Plant is one of two plants that assembles the Dodge Dart. The other is in Changsha, Hunan, China.
Fiat vechicles are built around the world, including the Poland- and Mexico-assembled Fiat 500, which resurrected the brand’s presence in the United States and Canada in 2007, after an almost 30-year absence.
Posted Jan. 2, 2014