DETROIT -- The top executives at Fiat and General Motors, nearing a deadline for a private meeting to try to resolve a dispute between the automakers, will both attend an industry meeting about auto regulations in Detroit on Tuesday.
Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne will be at an industry meeting hosted by GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner as the date nears when Fiat can force GM to buy its money-losing automotive operations.
"Virtually all the major global manufacturers are coming and I understand Sergio is coming, and beyond that, I have no comment," Wagoner told Reuters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.
At the CEO meeting, which the industry has held previously at other auto shows, "We traditionally talk about things like regulations, emissions and safety, and we'll continue those conversations," Wagoner said.
Last month, GM formally initiated a process that set a 30-business day deadline for the two CEOs to meet, before a put option giving Fiat the right to sell Fiat Auto to GM becomes effective.
The put option is part of a deal signed in 2000 when GM bought a stake in Fiat Auto in exchange for 6 percent of GM's shares, worth $2.4 billion. The partnership includes joint ventures in purchasing parts and developing engines and transmissions, which the two companies said have helped cut costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.
But since the 2000 deal, Fiat's automotive business has lost market share in Europe and has posted substantial losses, and GM has written down the value of its stake by $2.2 billion. The 105-year-old Italian car company has lost 744 million euros through the first nine months of this fiscal year.
The negotiation period requires Fiat and GM to meet on neutral ground, without identifying where that would be. But Canada is just across the river from Detroit.
If the negotiations fail, the companies can go to court, specified as a U.S. court in Manhattan in their agreement. Some analysts believe that the dispute will ultimately wind up there.
Marchionne said last month that there is a "real live possibility" that Fiat could exercise the put option, but GM argues that Fiat has breached some aspects of their agreement, and therefore the put option is invalid.