Fiat Chrysler gains access to billions in cash

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV closed on a deal with creditors to gain access to 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) under its North American-based operations known as FCA US, formerly Chrysler Group LLC.

The actions announced on Tuesday include amendments to term loans and a $2 billion prepayment. They allow the parent company full access to the subsidiary’s cash, lifting restrictions that have been in place since May 2011.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne for some time now has said that the automaker intended to pay off the debt of FCA US as soon as possible to lift the restrictions that also limited payment of dividends by FCA US “for the benefit of the rest of the FCA Group.”

“The Amendments represent the final step toward allowing the free flow of capital among members of the FCA Group, as previously announced, and enabling access to the second 2.5 billion-euro tranche of FCA’s 5 billion-euro syndicated revolving credit facility,” the company said in a statement.

As a condition of the amendments, FCA US made a $2 billion voluntary prepayment applied to the term loans, leaving an aggregate principal balance of about $2.8 billion.

The automaker is expected to use the newly accessed cash to help fund an aggressive business plan through 2018 that includes significant expansions for key global brands such as Jeep, Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

The Tuesday announcement failed to impress investors. Fiat Chrysler shares on the New York Stock Exchange closed down 2.2 percent to $7.60 per share.

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