March 7, 2011 / 4:05 PM / 8 years ago

Fiat eyes partnering with Russian automakers

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Fiat SpA FIA.MI is in talks with several Russian automakers about growing in that market, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne told Reuters on Monday.

“We are in talks with a number of people about how to proceed in Russia. We are committed to the Russian market,” Marchionne said.

TaGaz had been recently mentioned by European media as a possible partner for Fiat in Russia, but Marchionne did not single out the automaker.

“We need to find the optimal way to get it done in terms of timing, in terms of cost, and I think we have until April to finalize,” Marchionne told Reuters as he had a Merit cigarette

and a coffee.

Russian car maker Sollers unexpectedly dropped a joint venture plan with Fiat earlier in February in favor of Ford Motor Co (F.N). Rivals like Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Germany’s Volkswagen AG (VOWG.DE) have also rushed to forge ties with Russian partners.

Marchionne also told Reuters that U.S. affiliate Chrysler Group LLC is working on the refinancing of its debt, which amounts around $7 billion. The transaction is seen as key before the automaker could make an initial public offering.

“It is a first step in refinancing the house ... We are in discussions with financial institutions,” he said. “With everything restructured and then the company public, I would be very happy.”

Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz and Luis Rojas, editing by Gerald E. McCormick

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