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Fiat-Chrysler head eyes Hong Kong, New York for listing

Sergio Marchionne (left) and Fiat chairman John Elkann pose at the Paris Motor Show on September 27, 2012
Sergio Marchionne (left) and Fiat chairman John Elkann pose at the Paris Motor Show on September 27, 2012

Fiat-Chrysler head Sergio Marchionne said on Friday he was looking for financing to boost the newly merged automaking giant in the high-quality market, and that it could list on the Hong Kong or New York stock exchanges.

"We will go where the money is," Marchionne told Italy's La Repubblica daily in his first interview since the merger was announced on January 1.

He said that New York was "the most liquid" market but that he was "also ready" to go to Hong Kong.

Asked about financing for Fiat-Chrysler, Marchionne said that a convertible bond issue was "appropriate" but a final decision would be up to the board.

"We are here, ready to go, but we need money to go," he said.

A convertible bond is a type of bond that can be converted into shares in the issuing company or cash of equal value. They are often used by companies with a low credit rating but high growth potential.

The 2014 Fiat 500e is displayed on November 21, 2013 at the Los Angeles Auto Show
The 2014 Fiat 500e is displayed on November 21, 2013 at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Marchionne is chief executive of both Fiat and Chrysler and engineered the merger between the Italian and US auto makers in a process starting in 2009 when Chrysler exited bankruptcy after the global economic crisis.

Fiat already owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler and said it will buy up the remainder in a $4.35-billion (3.20-billion-euro) deal.

The combined entity, which Marchionne said would have a new name, will be the seventh largest car maker in world once the merger is complete.

Marchionne, who has been accused by Italian trade unions of planning to move Fiat out of Italy, said the choice of listing would also influence where the headquarters of the new company would be, adding that this was "a purely symbolic, emotional" issue.

In terms of strategy, he said that Fiat-Chrysler would aim for the premium car market because in the mass market "there are few clients, a lot of competitors, low margins and a complicated future".

Marchionne said: "We have fantastic brands that are premium by definition like Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Why not re-invent them?"

He said Alfa Romeo would unveil a new line-up of models in April that will "change the image of the brand, returning it to absolute excellence".

Marchionne also said the merger would be a boost for Italy and all Fiat workers in Italy on reduced working hours or temporary redundancies would be able to return to work "unless the market collapses again".

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