Fiat will have to wait longer than expected to settle Chrysler stake price

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 18, 2013

The trial meant to settle the price to buy out a minority shareholder of Chrysler has been set to begin in September 2014. This means that Fiat will have to wait longer than anticipated. It had wanted a trial in May and had made an offer to fly executives to the U.S. for depositions to hasten its lawsuit with the union trust that holds a 41.5% stake in Chrysler.

Delaware Court judge Donald Parsons, who is overseeing the case, had ordered that the five-day trial to be on Sept. 29 until Oct. 3 in Wilmington, Del. It’s believed that Parsons will announce his ruling 90 days after the trial concludes. The judge basically split the difference between the two sides. The UAW health care trust had requested trial for January 2015.

The UAW turned into the No. 2 shareholder of Chrysler in terms of size when the automaker exited bankruptcy in 2009 and the union got a stake instead of future health care payments. VEBA, the health care trust, handles those health care benefits on behalf of the union. Last July, Parsons favored Fiat in his ruling on central legal positions in the conflict.

However, it stopped short of ordering the trust to sell 54,154 Chrysler shares for $139.7 million, as Fiat had wanted. The trust estimated the value of those shares at $343.1 million. The trust said that a ruling on its price will need accounting experts as well as testimony by those who negotiated the deal.

This deal required that any disputes will be settled in the Delaware non-jury court, which is a venue preferred by parties involved in a business dispute since it’s known for its speedy decisions. The dispute covers the first of five call options that will permit Fiat to acquire 16.6% of Chrysler as time passes. This means that the difference between the two sides may amount to a total of over $1 billion. [source: automotive news  -sub. required]

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