The breathless hullabaloo over Chrysler Group's long-awaited filing for an initial public stock offering has the automotive world abuzz with revelations of perceived palace intrigue under the Pentastar.
Contained in Chrysler's nearly 400-page S-1 filing Monday were details of executive compensation and suggestions of another delay of Alfa Romeo's return to the United States. There were even product hints, such as news of an expansion of compressed natural gas-powered vehicles directly to consumers.
But beyond the noise and newsy tidbits, Chrysler's IPO seems more like something else: an expensive distraction with potential real-world consequences for dealers.
Chrysler's filing Monday has, under the law, put the automaker in a "quiet period" -- a period when company communications are severely regulated under penalty of incarceration. The automaker has to remain virtually mum on most of its dealings for fear of appearing to be hyping its potential stock above its natural value.
This is a real problem because of the timing of the filing and the chance that the IPO will be completed before next spring.
Next year, Chrysler will launch at least three products on which it has big hopes: a redesigned Chrysler 200 sedan, a new subcompact Jeep SUV, and the Ram 1500 diesel.
The Ram, the furthest along of the three, is expected to roll into dealerships around the first of the year. Its reviews are already out, and Ram boss Reid Bigland predicted that as many as 30 percent of Ram 1500 buyers will choose a diesel powertrain.
But the Chrysler 200 is another story. It won't be shown until the Detroit auto show in January.
If Chrysler remains in the quiet period as the show arrives, the automaker could be in the odd position of rolling out its new mid-sized Camry, Fusion, Malibu and Accord alternative, providing a list of basic functions, announcing the price and walking off the stage.
"No questions, thank you. I'd prefer not to go to jail," the Chrysler executive might say.
It also means that, unlike past Detroit shows when Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne dominated the headlines with his off-the-cuff news conferences, Marchionne is likely to pull a no-show at the show, as he did this month in Frankfurt.
The same thing is likely to happen in New York, where Jeep has a history of unveiling new models, if the IPO's still not done by spring.
The danger to these products is caused by an IPO that is more a fight between Fiat and the UAW retiree trust than it is the promise of publicly-available Chrysler shares.
Monday's IPO filing started in January, when the UAW trust, known as the Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association, or VEBA, exercised its right to ask the market to set a value for Chrysler Group.
The VEBA, by law, has no choice but to seek the highest possible return for its stake in the automaker, which it desperately wants to sell. It needs the money to pay benefits for tens of thousands of retired Chrysler workers.
Fiat, understandably, wants to buy the rest of Chrysler for the lowest possible price, and has the right to do so before Chrysler's stock is offered to anyone else.
It looks like short of a change of heart, either at the VEBA or in Turin, the financial gurus on Wall Street will be settling this dispute.
But it's likely Chrysler Group dealers who may pay.