Chrysler Technical Center

Chrysler will now become a wholly owned member of the Fiat family, as it's been announced that the 41.46-percent stake in the Auburn Hills, MI-based manufacturer owned by the United Auto Workers' VEBA trust fund will be sold to the Italian company. Concluding the agreement will mark the closure of a piecemeal purchase process that could have resulted in an initial public offering.

The total cost of the sale will see the VEBA healthcare trust receive $4.35 billion, $3.65 billion of which will come from Fiat. $1.75 billion of that will be cash, while an additional $1.9 billion will be part of a "special distribution." An additional $700 million will be paid over four separate installments according to reports from Automotive News Europe and USA Today, although the shares will belong to Fiat following the first payment. The deal was reportedly initially struck on Sunday (though it is just being announced today), and is being portrayed as particularly good news for Fiat and Chrysler, which have now prevented the remaining shares going to the stock market in a UAW-forced IPO.

"The unified ownership structure will now allow us to fully execute our vision of creating a global automaker that is truly unique in terms of mix of experience, perspective and know-how, a solid and open organization that will ensure all employees a challenging and rewarding environment," Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, the UAW will adopt the "best practices" of Fiat factories from across the globe in its own plants, although it hasn't been explicitly stated what these are and how they will come about.

Overall, this move comes as something of a surprise, as all indications pointed to a Chrysler IPO at some point in January. As recently as December 23, the two parties were reported back at the bargaining table, though, where this finalized deal was likely hammered out. There's a short press release from Chrysler available below if you want to read the rest of the corporate-speak skinny.
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Chrysler Group Announces Agreement With UAW Calling for Contributions to VEBA Trust and Also Announces a Special Distribution

January 1, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (the "UAW") have agreed to a memorandum of understanding to supplement Chrysler Group's existing collective bargaining agreement. Under the MoU, Chrysler Group will provide additional contributions to the VEBA Trust of an aggregate of $700 million in four equal annual installments. The initial payment will be made on closing of a transaction in which the VEBA Trust will sell to Fiat North America, one of Fiat's wholly owned subsidiaries, all of the VEBA Trust's equity interest in Chrysler. Additional payments of $175 million will be payable on each of the next three anniversaries of the initial payment. Chrysler Group expects to fund the initial contribution to the VEBA Trust from available cash on hand.

In consideration for these contributions, the UAW will agree to certain commitments to continue to support the industrial operations at Chrysler Group and the further implementation of the Fiat-Chrysler alliance, including to use best efforts to cooperate in the continued roll-out of Fiat-Chrysler World Class Manufacturing programs, actively participate in benchmarking efforts associated with implementation of these programs across all of Fiat-Chrysler manufacturing sites to ensure objective performance assessments and provide for proper application of WCM principles and actively assist in the achievement of the Group's long-term business plan.

The Chrysler Group Board of Directors has also determined to support the declaration and payment by Chrysler Group of a special distribution in an aggregate amount of approximately $1,900 million,1 subject to the Board completing its diligence and receiving independent assurance regarding the distribution payment capacity of Chrysler Group, a process that management expects will be completed on or before January 20, 2014
Fiat to acquire remaining equity interests in Chrysler Group LLC from VEBA Trust.