Italy’s Fiat has taken a big stake in beleaguered US carmaker Chrysler.It is a no-cash deal which gives the Italian manufacturer the scale it needs to survive, while Chrysler will get access to Fiat’s production and distribution assets. Fiat’s 35 percent is coming from the private equity firm Cerberus which bought it when the disastrous Daimler-Chrysler merger ended Daimler said it is continuing to try to sell the almost 20 percent of Chrysler it still owns. Last year Chrysler sold two million vehicles and Fiat 2.5 million. Fiat’s chief executive Sergio Marchionne said: “The agreement offers both companies opportunities to gain access to most relevant automotive markets with innovative and environmentally friendly products.” This alliance could lead to a takeover as Fiat reportedly has the option to later increase its holding to 55 percent. Chrysler – which recently got a three billion euro emergency US government loan to keep it from going bankrupt – is the smallest and most vulnerable of the big three US car makers. In Japan Toyota – also under pressure from a sales slump in the face of the global economic crisis – has just named a new boss. He is Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder and he faces a tough challenge. Toyota has just revealed its first drop in annual sales in a decade worldwide they fell four percent last year.
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