Just like in every marriage the discussion of where to reside always comes up. That is the problem Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, is dealing with now the a partnership between the two companies has been created in July. At this time Fiat was named partner of Chrysler, therefore bailing them out of their 2009 declaration of bankruptcy and reputation of being “not viable as a stand-alone company.”
However, since July the corporate jet has served a sort of mile-high headquarters as the CEO crisscrosses oceans and continents to integrate and expand Fiat and Chrysler.
The process of choosing a headquarters for what would be the world’s seventh largest automaker (based on combined 2010 sales of 3.74 million vehicles) is a challenge to say the least. If Italy is chosen there would be howls of protest from Obama administration, where U.S. taxpayers put up $12.5 billion to keep Chrysler afloat as it headed into bankruptcy two years ago.
Conversely, Italian officials and unions, fear Fiat becoming Americanized as well as losing brand prestige and valuable jobs.
The tension is valid because there are good reasons to locate the headquarters in Detroit, and there are also good reasons to believe the technical heart of the company is in Turin.
What is a CEO to do? Marchionne offered few clues his pending decision. He adeptly sidestepped the issue of a legal headquarters by announcing that the car manufacturing business will be divided into four regional centers, representing distinct markets: North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
Many analysts believe Fiat and Chrysler eventually will merge fully however at this moment it isn’t the number one priority.
For now the execs(13 Fiat managers and 9 Chrysler managers) tasked with working out the fine details are a band of traveling nomads.