Fiat's fight over Chrysler stake may not go to trial until 2015

Thu Sep 5, 2013 11:41am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

* Chrysler minority owner seeks January 2015 trial

* Fiat wants May trial to set buyout price

* Schedule dispute follows limited legal victory for Fiat in July

By Tom Hals

Sept 5 (Reuters) - Fiat SpA may have to wait until 2015 before a judge will decide the price the Italian automaker would have to pay to buy out a minority shareholder of its Chrysler business, according to court filings.

Delaware judge Donald Parsons should allow a "reasonable time" to prepare for a trial to decide what Fiat must pay to buy part of the 41.5 percent Chrysler stake held by a United Auto Workers healthcare trust, according to a filing by the trust.

The UAW became Chrysler's second-largest shareholder when Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 and the union swapped future healthcare payments owed to it for a stake. The healthcare trust, known as VEBA, manages those healthcare benefits on behalf of the union.

Fiat is expected to buy the stake and then merge the two manufacturers to create the world's seventh-largest auto group by sales.

The trust said in a letter to Judge Parsons that it has been unable to negotiate a trial schedule with Fiat, which filed the lawsuit in September 2012. The healthcare trust wants the judge to set a trial in January 2015, while Fiat has pushed for a trial in May, which the trust described as "an aggressive schedule."   Continued...