TURIN, Italy (Bloomberg) -- Fiat S.p.A. is considering moving its corporate headquarters to the United States following a planned merger with Chrysler Group, three people familiar with the matter said.
CEO Sergio Marchionne is evaluating the switch from Turin, where Fiat was founded in 1899, to the United States as the carmaker's revenue and profit center shifts to North America, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing the internal deliberations.
Fiat generated 75 percent of 2012 operating profit in North America. No final decision on the headquarters has been taken and other options are being examined, they said.
A Fiat representative declined to comment.
Marchionne said last month that he favored a primary listing in New York for the merged company.
Moving Fiat's headquarters away from Turin's iconic Lingotto, a former car plant with an oval track on its roof, could create a political backlash in debt-ridden Italy, where the entire industrial sector is in decline.
The unemployment rate is near a 20-year high as companies refrain from hiring amid the country's longest recession in more than two decades.
Chrysler, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., has become the group's profit generator as Fiat struggles to end losses in Europe, which totaled more than 700 million euros ($900 million) last year.
Fiat's dependence on Europe has been drastically reduced since the acquisition of Chrysler in 2009.
The region in 2012 represented 24 percent of the group's 84 billion euros in revenue.
When Marchionne was named CEO in 2004, Fiat relied on Europe for more than 90 percent of its 27 billion euros in sales.
"Europe is becoming a less and less relevant fact in the scheme of things," Marchionne told analysts last month. "It's a reflection of the ability of this house to shift its interest and to shift its resources to markets that are much more rewarding in terms of investment and return."
Fiat will keep its European headquarters in Turin at the Lingotto building, which opened in the 1920s after founder Giovanni Agnelli visited Ford Motor Co.'s Detroit-area plants, the people said.
Auto production at the complex stopped in the 1980s.
Fiat, Italy's biggest private-sector employer, is a key part of the country's commercial fabric. Its name is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, or Italian car factory of Turin.
The company, pushed by the Agnelli industrial family, played a key part in Italy's emergence as a manufacturing power after World War II and its 500 subcompact is a national symbol of the postwar economic boom.
Before the locations for the listing and headquarters can be finalized, Fiat first has to buy the remaining 41.5 percent Chrysler staked owned by the United Auto Workers retiree health-care fund.
The two sides are disputing in court the price for a portion of the shares Fiat is seeking to buy by exercising options.