Fiat open to Chrysler IPO if finds no solution to buy stake

MILAN Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:43am EST

MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat FIA.MI Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the Italian automaker is open to an initial public offering of its U.S. unit Chrysler if it is unable to buy the remaining 41 percent of the company directly from the minority shareholder.

The minority owner, a United Auto Workers union retiree healthcare trust, demanded that Chrysler register 16.6 percent of company shares with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month.

The trust, called VEBA, has the right to make the demand because of the 2009 agreement that brought Chrysler out of bankruptcy and left Fiat as part-owner.

"In the absence internally of any (solution) at Fiat (to buy the stake), we will be more than happy to accompany VEBA to an initial public offering," said Marchionne on Wednesday to analysts on a conference call.

"I will let VEBA go and float, and then deal with the (stock) overhang."

Marchionne said Fiat does not plan to make any asset sales to fund the purchase. But he did not rule them out.

(Reporting by Jennifer Clark; editing by Francesca Landini)

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