Fiat’s fight over Chrysler stake may not go to trial until 2015

City A.M. Reporter
FIAT may have to wait until 2015 before a judge will decide the price the Italian automaker would have to pay to buy out a minority shareholder of its Chrysler business, according to court filings.

Delaware judge Donald Parsons should allow a “reasonable time” to prepare for a trial to decide what Fiat must pay to buy part of the 41.5 per cent Chrysler stake held by a United Auto Workers healthcare trust, according to a filing by the trust. The UAW became Chrysler’s second-largest shareholder when Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 and the union swapped future healthcare payments owed to it for a stake. The healthcare trust, known as VEBA, manages those healthcare benefits on behalf of the union. Fiat is expected to buy the stake and then merge the two manufacturers.

The trust said in a letter to Judge Parsons that it has been unable to negotiate a trial schedule with Fiat, which filed the lawsuit in September 2012. The healthcare trust wants the judge to set a trial in January 2015, while Fiat has pushed for a trial in May.