Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

January 30, 2014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to be company's new name

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler and Fiat will be known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV as they move forward as a single company.

Fiat’s board of directors agreed on the new name Wednesday, with headquarters for tax purposes in the United Kingdom. But the board sidestepped the thorny political issue of whether the true headquarters would be in the United States or Italy.

Fiat and Chrysler also announced fourth-quarter and full-year earnings. Chrysler’s strong profits once again propped up its parent company, which otherwise would have lost money.

Shares of the combined company will trade jointly on the New York Stock Exchange and in Milan, Italy, by Oct. 1. The shares will trade under the symbol FCA, which also appears on the new company logo. FCA now includes the Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler brands as well as Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari and Lancia and Alfa Romeo.

The new company will maintain significant research, engineering and financial operations in Fiat’s hometown of Turin, Italy, and at Chrysler’s sprawling office complex in Auburn Hills. This avoids political controversies in Italy, where Fiat is the largest private employer, and in the U.S., where the government saved Chrysler by funding its 2009 bankruptcy.

Corporate executives, including Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both companies, say the real headquarters is on an airplane. Currently, the 22-member leadership team spends hours on jets flying to meetings and to visit factories and other operations.

For at least three years — the amount of time Marchionne has committed to leading the company — “the brains are going to be flying back and forth between Auburn (Hills) and Italy,” said Morningstar analyst Richard Hilgert.

Fiat owned 58.5 percent of Chrysler last year. It has since bought the rest from a trust fund that pays health care bills for union retirees in order to combine the companies.

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