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Fiat-Chrysler group could be based in the Netherlands: CEO

Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne poses during a visit at the carmaker's Sevelsud plant in Atessa, central Italy, July 9, 2013. REUTERS
Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne poses during a visit at the carmaker's Sevelsud plant in Atessa, central Italy, July 9, 2013. REUTERS

By Sara Webb

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Carmaker Fiat-Chrysler could be registered in the Netherlands after a planned merger, the company's chief executive Sergio Marchionne said on Tuesday.

A base in the Netherlands could be advantageous in the event Fiat-Chrysler opts for the United States as its primary listing, since corporate rules in the Netherlands are similar to those in the U.S.

Marchionne said on April 29 he would prefer the combined Fiat-Chrysler to have its primary listing in New York.

Fiat's sister company Fiat Industrial is moving its corporate headquarters to the Netherlands after a merger with its U.S. unit CNH that should be finalized in the autumn.

"It's possible," Marchionne told Reuters on Tuesday when asked whether Fiat could follow suit.

The Fiat Industrial-CNH merger "is one of the technical blueprints" for a future Fiat-Chrysler marriage, Marchionne has said.

CNH shareholders approved the merger at a meeting in Amsterdam, CNH said in a statement on Tuesday. The new company will be called CNH Industrial, and will move its primary listing from Milan to New York.

Fiat is in talks with Chrysler's minority shareholder VEBA to buy the 41.5 percent stake it does not already own. Marchionne said he expected a Delaware court to rule on a price dispute with VEBA by the end of July.

The ruling will remove uncertainty over the price Fiat will pay for part of the VEBA stake, as well as provide clarity about the timetable for the full merger.

Marchionne declined to comment on Fiat's second quarter earnings, due out on July 30.

Analysts are forecasting a group trading profit for Fiat-Chrysler of about 1 billion euros ($1.32 billion), in line with the year-ago period, and a net profit of 305 million euros, according to a consensus of forecasts published on Fiat's website on Tuesday.

ALFA ROMEO CHANGES?

Fiat's earnings next week will be closely watched for signs it is stemming losses in Europe, where mass market carmakers are losing money because of falling demand for cars.

Fiat's plan to build Alfa Romeo vehicles for export at its loss-making Italian plants may be delayed from 2014, according to press reports, if it decides to engineer a new rear-wheel drive platform for the cars.

Building a rear-wheel drive platform from scratch would help Alfa Romeo better compete with German high-end models, but would be expensive and time consuming. No decision has been taken yet, Automotive News wrote earlier this week.

"I will not confirm it. And I will not deny it," Marchionne said when asked to comment on the reports. ($1 = 0.7580 euros)

(Reporting by Sara Webb; Writing by Jennifer Clark; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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