Italian automaker Fiat SpA, which already owns 58.5% of Chrysler Group, has now exercised a third option on another 3.3% of the U.S. carmaker’s shares. The catch is that Fiat and the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is selling the shares owned by a union trust, cannot agree on a price. In fact, Fiat still has not taken possession of the shares it picked up when it exercised its first two options.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Fiat will pay $254.7 million for the third option’s additional 3.3% stake in Chrysler. The options are exercisable every six months until June 2016, and were part of the deal Fiat negotiated when it took Chrysler out of bankruptcy. All told, the Italian carmaker could acquire an additional 16.6% of Chrysler from the UAW, leaving the union with a stake of around 24.9% to Fiat’s 75.1%.
The UAW wants Fiat to offer the 16.6% to the public, where it thinks it will get a better price. Fiat offered $139.7 million for the first tranche of 3.3% of the UAW’s Chrysler stock and $198 million for the second tranche. At that second price, Chrysler was valued at around $6 billion, according to Fiat’s arithmetic. The UAW seeks a price that would double that valuation.
A Delaware court is expected to decide later this month how much Fiat should pay for the UAW’s shares for the first two tranches. That price could well decide how much Fiat ultimately pays, and how much Chrysler is ultimately worth.