Tim O'Brien | Apr 14, 2009

The deck chairs are still being rearranged on the deck of that ‘other Titanic’, the desperately struggling US carmaker, Chrysler LLC.

Whether Fiat SpA can save it from a cold oblivion remains uncertain. Nevertheless, news has surfaced that Fiat CEO, Canadian Sergio Marchionne, may take the top job at Chrysler as part of the new (revised) restructuring and survival plan for Chrysler, elbowing current boss Bob Nardelli from the chair, and sitting astride both companies.

But don’t believe all you read about the proposed Chrysler/Fiat partnership. It is far from a done deal and Chrysler’s future is far from secured.


The companies now have less than two weeks remaining to hammer out the details of an inevitably complex partnership and to present a new plan for viability to US President Barack Obama and his automotive industry task force.

Saddled by debt, losing market share in a shrinking recession-ridden market, and with Daimler still in negotiation to offload its remaining stake in the company with majority owner Cerberus Capital Management, Chrysler will be a gordian knot for Fiat.

obama And time is not on anyone's side. Failure to produce an acceptable 'viability' plan by the end of this month will see Chrysler cut adrift from further bail-out loans from the US Government and left to slide into certain bankruptcy. That's a bride Fiat is certain to leave at the altar (although it may swoop in to grab a few discarded body parts).

Meanwhile though, both Fiat and Chrysler are having a red-hot go to get the in-bed thing working. After the first ‘viability’ plan was rejected, Marchionne flew into Detroit to meet trade union officials and creditors – both of whom are crucial to Chrysler’s short-term survival and long-term future.

That was two weeks ago... listen carefully and you can hear the clock ticking down.

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