Fiat’s shares rally after split as firm eyes Chrysler stock

City A.M. Reporter
SHARES in a slimmer Fiat and sister company Fiat Industrial made a choppy debut on the Milan market yesterday, while chief executive Sergio Marchionne said Fiat could increase its stake in Chrysler past 50 per cent this year.

Fiat SpA, which contains Fiat’s car and engine business, opened at €7.03 (£6.07) yesterday, while Fiat Industrial traded at €8.99, a three per cent increase from the €15.43 closing price of the combined group on 30 December before the split. Fiat rallied almost 50 per cent last year.

Fiat Industrial, the company whose assets include truck maker Iveco and tractor company CNH Global, has been split from the car-making business Fiat to allow the firms to forge different tie-ins.

The new Fiat Industrial shares were indicated to debut at €6 according to analysts. Fiat, which now only comprises the rump auto group, was indicated to trade at €7.50. Fiat and the Milan bourse did not set reference prices that are sometimes used to guide investors.

The split, which main investor John Elkann has called “a defining moment” in the history of the century-old Italian carmaker, is part of chief executive Sergio Marchionne’s efforts to revamp Fiat among Europe’s biggest industrial turnarounds.

The plan could speed up a merger with US carmaker Chrysler, in which Fiat owns 20 per cent, and free Marchionne’s hands for other growth initiatives.

However, Marchionne told reporters yesterday he doesn’t plan to merge operations with Chrysler, but added that Fiat could lift its stake to over 50 per cent this year if Chrysler returns to the stock market.

“If Chrysler is listed this year, we should think about speeding up the option of increasing our stake,” said Marchionne.