Fiat CEO Wants To 'Repay Every Single Dollar Of Taxpayer Funding'

March 6, 2009

So is it going to be Italy to the rescue of the American taxpayer? Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is still courting Chrysler, and he assured the U.S. auto task force yesterday that if the proposed Fiat/Chrysler alliance goes through, no U.S. taxpayer money used to help Chrysler will ever find its way to Italy.

"The main objective is going to be to repay every single dollar of taxpayer funding before anybody gets anything," said Marchionne following a meeting with members of the White House task force. The closed-door meeting lasted two-and-a-half hours. More than simply a financial rescue for Chrysler, Marchionne believes strongly that his company will bring both products and technology to help the brand return to relevance and profitability.

Chrysler pentastar

Chrysler pentastar

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Marchionne is resolutely keeping his head up and confidence high despite a terrible U.S. auto market and especially dismal sales performances by Chrysler and G.M. "Nothing has happened that would change my mind," he said, referring to Chrysler's worsening condition since talks of the deal began early this year.

The meeting was led by a restructuring expert and a labor advisor who both grilled Marchionne about his overtures toward Chrysler and about the state of the European auto market.

Fiat's proposal stipulates a 35 percent stake in Chrysler with the option to acquire another 20 percent. Marchionne does not, however, plan to infuse any cash into Chrysler, and claimed that the deal does hinge on additional funding for Chrysler. He didn't specify where that funding might come from (read: billions more from Uncle Sam).

[source: Detroit News]

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