Fiat closes deal to take bulk of Chrysler's assets

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Italy's Fiat is the new owner of the bulk of Chrysler's assets, closing a deal Wednesday that saves the troubled U.S. automaker from liquidation and places a new company in the hands of Fiat's CEO.

The deal clears the way for a new, leaner Chrysler Group LLC to emerge from bankruptcy protection minus billions in debt, 789 underperforming dealerships and burdensome labor costs that nearly sank the storied automaker.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne immediately was named CEO of the new company, which said in a statement that it would soon reopen Chrysler factories that were idled during the bankruptcy process, costing the automaker $100 million per day.

The new company will focus on smaller vehicles, areas in which Chrysler was weak.

"Work is already under way on developing new environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient, high-quality vehicles that we intend to become Chrysler's hallmark going forward," the new company said in a statement.

The Italian automaker won't put any money into the deal but will give Chrysler billions worth of small car and engine technology.

"We intend to build on Chrysler's culture of innovation and Fiat's complementary technology and expertise to expand Chrysler's product portfolio both in North America and overseas," Marchionne said in a statement.

The sale to Fiat SpA marks a victory for the Obama administration, which shepherded Chrysler into Chapter 11 protection on April 30 with the hope that the company would emerge in a matter of months with a new partner.

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