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By Stefano Rebaudo
AMSTERDAM, April 16 (Reuters) - Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne wants Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to play a key role in a consolidation of the global auto industry which he sees as inevitable to manage prohibitive capital costs.
Speaking on Thursday to shareholders in Amsterdam, away from Fiat’s historic roots in Turin and Chrysler’s in Detroit, Marchionne said: “We don’t want to stay behind in a process that is changing the industry, that is not a possibility.”
Marchionne declined to comment about the chances of a tie-up between the world’s seventh-largest carmaker and U.S. rival General Motors, but said the company was talking to many parties, without giving details.
“We have talks ongoing with various operators on various topics,” he said.
Fiat completed its buyout of U.S. arm Chrysler last year and moved the primary listing of the merged group to New York. The company is now incorporated in the Netherlands and has its headquarters in London.
Marchionne said work to spin-off and list luxury unit Ferrari was ongoing and he expected the floatation to happen this year, although he suggested the process may spill over into 2016.
He said the company had no plans to list any other brands.
Last year, the carmaker decided to spin off Ferrari, sell a 10 percent stake via a public offering and distribute the rest of FCA’s stake in the luxury sports car brand to its shareholders.
Marchionne reiterated that FCA might introduce a loyalty share scheme as part of the spin-off, which could give long-term investors multiple voting rights, although there was no final decision. This could allow Fiat’s founding Agnelli family to keep their grip on Ferrari even with fewer shares.
“We are evaluating it, it’s a solution that has worked well for CNH Industrial and FCA,” he said.
Marchionne confirmed the company’s targets for this year, even though its individual geographic areas are yielding different results than initially expected.
In two weeks, the carmaker will inaugurate a new plant in Brazil. Marchionne has previously said he expected the Pernambuco plant to help FCA return to double-digit profit margins in that market.
Marchionne said margins in the North American region were recovering, dismissing concerns from industry analysts suggesting that FCA’s use of incentives was too aggressive.
“Our pricing policy is in line with that of our competitors,” he said, adding that some models were sold at lower prices because they had less advanced technology than those of competitors.
FCA’s Milan-listed shares closed down 2.14 percent at 15.09 euros, compared with a 1.75 percent fall in Italy’s blue-chip index (Writing by Agnieszka Flak. Editing by Jane Merriman)