Sergio Marchionne is the CEO of Fiat, which as you may have heard, has finally worked up a deal to finish acquiring the Chrysler Group after months of bargaining with the United Auto Workers and its VEBA healthcare trust, which owned just over 40 percent of the American brand. Where was Marchionne when the deal was finally hammered out? Well, not tucked away in a frigid Detroit board room until the wee hours of the morning.
Nope, one of the largest deals in automotive history was reportedly hammered out on the beach – at the home of a banker, in the Florida resort town of Vero Beach. Marchionne traveled to the home of Alain Lebec, a senior managing director at Brock Capital LLC, one of the advisory companies for the VEBA fund, where both sides met to make final arrangements in the $4.35-billion exchange. The location of the final deal, though, is nearly as remarkable as the pace with which it came about.
According to anonymous sources pinned down by Automotive News Europe, before the meeting, the two sides were meeting in Detroit as recently as December 19, which is where Fiat made one of its final revised offers. Naturally, the VEBA made a counter offer, which led Marchionne to initiate the Vero Beach meeting.
From there, at the house of Lebec, the final $4.35-billion figure – which sits between the Fiat offer and the VEBA counteroffer – was agreed upon. The results of that December 28 meeting, which according to ANE lasted about four hours past sunset, were approved by the Fiat board the next day, and the deal’s announcement was scheduled for January 1.
The small details of the deal haven’t quite been hammered out, with some sources telling ANE that a timeline for the official Fiat/Chrysler merger likely won’t be arranged until later this month. Still, the simple fact that this deal happened so quickly and outside of a traditional Detroit atmosphere makes it all the more incredible.