Fiat Industrial to merge with CNH by September

Marchionne 'will stay on after 2015' says Elkann

Fiat Industrial to merge with CNH by September

(By Paul Virgo and Emily Backus). Turin, May 30 - Fiat Chairman John Elkann on Thursday said Sergio Marchionne should stay on as the carmaker's CEO beyond 2015 and that the planned merger between Fiat Industrial and CNH Global NV will be completed by September. Elkann was speaking as a meeting of Exor, the Agnelli family investment company that he chairs and which controls Fiat and it sister company Fiat Industrial. ''Marchionne has spoken about 2015 as the date of his exit (from Fiat) because he thinks many things will have been completed by then,'' Elkann told the meeting. ''But having spoken to him, I'm convinced that he will stay with us for many more years''. He added that Marchionne had Exor's full backing for his plan to merge Fiat with Chrysler, which the Italian carmaker took control after bankruptcy in 2009. He also said truck-and-agricultural-vehicles-producer Fiat Industrial's merger with tractor giant CNH Global NV will not take long. ''There are a series of procedures (to carry out),'' said Elkann, an Agnelli family heir who is a board member of Fiat Industrial as well as being the number one at Fiat. ''We believe that between July 4, (American) Independence Day, and September 1, this new entity should come to life. There are no problems on the horizon''. Italian Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato told Radio 24 on Thursday that he has fixed a meeting with Marchionne to ask about his plans for Italy. ''What I want to understand from Marchionne is what his intentions are regarding Fiat's presence in Italy,'' Zanonato said, alluding to controversy that has swirled around whether the group may reduce manufacturing in or withdraw headquarters from Italy given high tax rates, Chrysler's prosperous North American operations, fist-shaking with Italian unions over productivity, and now Fiat Industrial's merger with CNH. ''(Fiat) is the biggest company in Italy. It produces 420,000 cars, 30% of which will be sold in Italy. It's not trivial stuff,'' Zanonato said. Elkann appeared to prepare ground at least for shifting the legal and tax headquarters of the new group being formed by Fiat Industrial and CNH on Thursday. Elkann said, ''Decisions on the legal and jurisdictional headquarters are dictated by expedience. Symbolic things for us have a very low value. What counts is the substance. Italy and those who work in the Italian plants will have great opportunities in the new group''. Elkann explained, ''We are extremely proud of having made a global company out of Fiat Industrial and CNH that can compete with very strong products. Smaller headquarters give us the possibility to structure the corporate aspect, but activities in Italy will not only exist and remain, but will increase in potential''. ''What we produce here and the workers in the Italian plants have a great opportunity for expansion in the world. What counts is to have created a great global company and to have given those who work - among them a large Italian component - many possibilities for growth,'' Elkann concluded.

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