MILAN, July 8 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
A court decision on the price Fiat will pay for the shares
is still pending.