5:09 a.m. ET Friday: Marchionne dons tie, claims victory in Fiat Chrysler debt pledge
BALOCCO, Italy -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne kicked off his final strategic road map presentation for the Italian-American automaker on Friday, and he didn’t disappoint.
Appearing onstage at the Balocco test track near Turin, the CEO first took a victory lap, recounting his accomplishments in saving Fiat SpA from bankruptcy in the mid-2000s and following that up with the rescue of Chrysler five years later. Then he unzipped a nondescript black sweater and, paraphrasing Oscar Wilde, revealed an “arguably well tied” blue tie.
With that, Marchionne declared victory in one of Fiat Chrysler’s long-held and most ambitious goals -- to become net cash positive this year. “I expect that when we close the books at the end of June, we will report a net industrial cash position,” he said.
The event marks 14 years to the day since Marchionne took the helm at a struggling Fiat SpA on June 1, 2004. His concluding task is to offer investors a compelling vision for the company that will endure once he’s left the stage. Marchionne, hired in the dramatic hours after the death of Chairman Umberto Agnelli when Fiat was on the brink of bankruptcy, returns to the place where, in July 2004, he presented his survival plan for the manufacturer.
One optimistic sign for shareholders: At the event in Balocco, Fiat Chrysler has handed out candy boxes inscribed: “Net cash: How sweet it is.” The show’s about to begin.
Fiat’s value has increased by more than 10 times during Marchionne’s tenure. The stock rose 3.1 percent to 19.99 euros ($23.41) as of 9:38 a.m. in Milan. That would mark a record high, based on closing prices.
4:30 a.m. ET Friday: Fiat Chrysler to be in net cash position by end of June, Marchionne says
Fiat Chrysler will end the second quarter in a net cash position, CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Friday, kicking off the company's five-year strategy presentation.
The 65-year-old, whose black crew neck sweaters have become his calling card, took the unusual step of wearing a tie to celebrate the milestone.
"As you can see from my arguably well tied tie we will report a net industrial cash position at the end of June," Marchionned said.