Fiat ups Chrysler stake to 68.49 percent

MILAN, July 8 Mon Jul 8, 2013 3:35am EDT

MILAN, July 8 (Reuters) - Italian carmaker Fiat said on Monday it has exercised an option to buy 3.3 percent more of its U.S. unit Chrysler, bringing it a step nearer to its goal of creating the world's seventh-largest automaker by sales.

Fiat, which loses money in Europe, has said it wants full control of profitable Chrysler, which would give it access to some of Chrysler's cash flow for investments in new models.

Fiat snapped up 20 percent of a worthless Chrysler in 2009 for free and now owns 58.5 percent of the U.S. group with a right to increase its stake to 75 percent in a gradual, three-year process until July 2014.

Fiat can buy 16.6 percent of Chrysler in installments of 3.3 percent from Veba, a U.S. healthcare trust linked to the autoworkers' union. Including Monday's purchase, Fiat has exercised three of the six-monthly options to buy 3.3 percent, increasing its stake to 68.49 percent.

Fiat said its calculation of the value of the shares is $254.7 million.

A court decision on the price Fiat will pay for the shares is still pending.

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