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Fiat might boost its Chrysler Group stake

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Italian carmaker that owns 20 percent of Chrysler Group may boost the holding to more than 50 percent before the U.S. automaker's initial public offering, the two companies' chief executive said Monday.

"I think it is possible. I don't know whether it is likely, but it is possible that we'll go over the 50 percent mark if Chrysler decides to go to the markets in 2011," Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters. "It will be advantageous if that happens."

Fiat received the stake as part of Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization. It expects to get an additional 15 percent this year when Chrysler makes a small engine in the United States and meets sales objectives outside North America. Fiat has an option to increase the holding to 51 percent, buying an additional 16 percent, after Chrysler repays its U.S. and Canadian government loans.

Marchionne said Monday that there is no plan to merge Fiat and Chrysler. "A legal merger is not going to change our lives," he said. He reiterated that a Chrysler IPO could take place in the second half of this year.

- Bloomberg News

ECONOMY

Bankruptcy filings up 9 percent in 2010

U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings rose 9 percent last year compared with 2009, reaching1.53 million, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, which projected 2010 bankruptcies totaling 1.6 million.

The pace of bankruptcy filings slowed in the last quarter, with fewer petitions in October and November than during the same period a year earlier, according to the Alexandria-based ABI. The slowdown at the end of the year was the result of more consumers reducing debt and cutting spending, ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano said Monday in an interview.

"I think there are fewer people on the ledge, who are susceptible to that final economic event," Gerdano said.

In 2010, more individuals filed for bankruptcy than in any year since 2005, when Congress passed legislation making it more difficult for people to discharge debt under court protection, Gerdano said. He added that such filings might continue to increase next year.

- Bloomberg News

Also in Business

l Two Borders executives resign: Borders Group said Monday that two of its top executives have resigned. The company said D. Scott Laverty, the retailer's chief information officer, resigned Monday, a day after Thomas D. Carney, general counsel and secretary, stepped down. Borders didn't say why the two are leaving.

The nation's second-largest bookseller has been struggling to refinance its debt and has had to delay payments to some of its vendors to preserve cash.

Last month, the company reported that its third-quarter loss was bigger than a year earlier and that its sales had fallen steeply.

- Associated Press


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