UPDATE 1-Fiat has no plans for stake in Mazda

Tue May 29, 2012 11:18am EDT

TURIN, Italy May 29 (Reuters) - Italian carmaker Fiat will not buy a stake in Mazda Motor, and will move forward soon with plans to up its stake in U.S. automaker Chrysler to over 60 percent.

"We have no plan to buy a stake in Mazda," Fiat Chairman John Elkann said on the sidelines of the annual shareholder meeting of Exor, the Agnelli family's investment company through which it controls Fiat and Chrysler.

Alliances allow carmakers to share the costs of developing new vehicles and keep pricing competitive as well as helping them gain a foothold in new regions, although they can be fraught with difficulties.

Mazda and Fiat announced last week they would join forces to make new versions of their most famous sports cars, the MX-5 and the Alfa Romeo Spider.

The move sparked speculation the partnership could be expanded over time, although both played down the possibility of an equity alliance.

Fiat, which owns 58.5 percent in Chrysler, and plans to buy a further 3 percent starting in July, is expected to complete its global turnaround by adding an Asian partner, despite a troubled history with former Chinese partners.

Fiat eventually wants to increase its Chrysler stake to 100 percent, and Elkann on Tuesday declined to provide details about the timing of the move.

Asked whether Exor was making contingency plans for a future exit of Greece from the euro zone, Elkann said that the holding company had not changed its strategy.

Exor holds 30.4 percent of capital goods group Fiat Industrial, 15 percent of certification company SGS , 30.5 percent of carmaker Fiat (which controls Chrysler) and 69.5 percent of Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate company.

"We are continuing with our strategy of simplifying our investment portfolio and extending our geographical reach," Elkann told journalists after Exor's annual shareholder meeting, adding he had not taken any special measures in the light of the eurozone crisis.

The company said on May 4 it had appointed Shahriar Tadjbakhsh as chief operating officer to take charge of its efforts to streamline its investment portfolio and concentrate on companies with a global reach.

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