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Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Chrysler and Fiat holding talks over partnership: report

AP , AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN

Fiat SpA was holding discussions with Chrysler LLC about taking a stake in the US car maker and creating a partnership that would allow the Italian auto maker to build and sell its small cars in the US, two publications reported on Monday.

Unnamed officials familiar with the discussions told the Wall Street Journal and Automotive News that Chrysler would have access to the Turin-based automaker’s engine and transmission technology as part of a potential deal.

Chrysler spokeswoman Lori McTavish said in a statement on Monday that “in today’s economic environment, talks are going on between companies in all industries — ours is no different.

“McTavish said Chrysler as a policy “does not confirm or disclose the nature of its private business meetings.”

A Fiat official did not immediately comment on the reports.

Fiat Group SpA, which makes Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo vehicles, has been trying to re-enter the US for the first time since 1983. The company has expressed interest in bringing its Fiat 500 compact car and the Alfa Romeo brand to the US market.

Chrysler, which is 80.1 percent owned by Cerberus Capital Management LLP, has been hurt by its reliance upon slow-selling trucks and sport utility vehicles and analysts have said it probably won’t survive the year as an independent company despite receiving a US$4 billion government loan.

The Treasury Department said on Friday it will provide a US$1.5 billion loan to Chrysler’s financing arm, Chrysler Financial, and the automaker plans to offer zero-percent financing on several models and expand lending to car buyers with less than ideal credit.

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