Fiat emblemAutomotive News is reporting that Fiat has paid $1.27 billion for an additional slice of Chrysler. The news follows a move by the Italian automaker last week that saw its total ownership jump to 30 percent. The newest acquisition increases that total to 46 percent, and analysts are predicting that the Pentastar's latest partner may make the jump for a majority stake sometime soon. Fiat's CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has already been quoted as saying that his company would like to eventually have control of the smallest of the Big Three. If that happens, it's assumed that Marchionne would immediately push for an IPO.

The last five percent of the puzzle hinges largely on the effective launch of a new 40-mpg vehicle slated to be unveiled later this year. Chrysler is also said to be on track to complete its debt refinancing by the end of the second quarter, which puts the American manufacturer closer to going public than it has been since bankruptcy.

Previously, the latest swell in Fiat ownership had come after the automaker met a number of goals, including ensuring that at least 90 percent of its South American dealerships sold a Chrysler product.

[Sources: The Detroit News, Automotive News – sub. req.]