Marchionne upbeat on landmark Fiat Chrysler listing

Fri Oct 3, 2014 11:38am EDT
 
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By Paul Ingrassia and Laurence Frost

PARIS (Reuters) - With the landmark listing of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FIA.MI less than two weeks away, CEO Sergio Marchionne has a clear criterion for success: more than half of the merged company's shares changing hands in New York instead of Milan.

"If we do more volumes in New York than we do in Milan, that's a good benchmark," Marchionne said in an interview at the Paris auto show, adding that current Milan trading volumes often top 10 million share transactions.

"If that number were to go 6 million in the U.S. and 4 million in Europe I'd be happy," he told Reuters.That outcome would also be distinctly different from what occurred after Chrysler's 1998 acquisition by Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote), in which trading in DaimlerChrysler shares was heavily weighted toward Germany. That ill-fated deal collapsed a decade later amid a destructive clash of two corporate and national cultures that Fiat and Chrysler have managed to avoid.

Fiat took management control of Chrysler in 2009 after the American company emerged from government-sponsored bankruptcy. Earlier this year it completed its purchase of all outstanding Chrysler shares, and the listing of the new Fiat Chrysler is scheduled for Oct. 13.

With a small corporate headquarters in London, incorporation in the Netherlands and major operating centers in Turin and Detroit, Fiat Chrysler aims to be the first successful automaker combining multinational roots with international reach.

The new primary listing on the New York Stock Exchange opens access to the world's biggest and most liquid equity market and the cheaper, more reliable source of funding it ultimately offers.

"When you look at carmakers in the U.S. there will be three choices: you either go GM, you go Ford or you go FCA," the CEO said.

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Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne  (2L) waves after the presentation of the new LaFerrari hybrid car on the Ferrari stand during the first media day of the 83rd Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2013.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse