GAVI, Italy -- Fiat S.p.A. CEO Sergio Marchionne said the Italian carmaker won't risk a credit-rating downgrade to gain full ownership of Chrysler Group and he isn't in talks to acquire the United Auto Workers retiree health-care trust fund's stake in the U.S. automaker.
"The easiest route is to do an initial public offering" of Chrysler, Marchionne told reporters Tuesday in Gavi, Italy, at the presentation of the Fiat Freemont, a European version of the Dodge Journey sport-utility vehicle. "The real answer is that we can't jeopardize the rating of Fiat to get this done."
The automaker consolidated Chrysler's results starting on May 24, a sign of the rapid integration of the two automakers since the U.S. manufacturer exited bankruptcy in June 2009.
While Marchionne is making "good progress" toward buying Canada's stake in Chrysler, he said, an IPO of Chrysler isn't on tap for this year.
"The market is not there" for a share sale this year, he said in an interview. Fiat, which was initially granted a 20 percent stake in Chrysler by the U.S. government, aims to hold 57 percent of the third-biggest U.S. automaker by the end of 2011.
The UAW trust will have 41.5 percent of Chrysler at that time, Fiat said.
Fiat was placed under review for a possible downgrade in its credit rating by Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings in April.
Standard & Poor's lowered its long-term corporate credit rating on Fiat to BB from BB+ in February after the carmaker spun off its industrial operations. Both ratings are below investment grade.
Fiat agreed on June 3 to pay $500 million for the U.S. government's remaining 6 percent stake in Chrysler, which will boost its holding to 52 percent.
Marchionne has said he expects to receive an additional 5 percent stake in the fourth quarter in return for developing a fuel-efficient car for Chrysler.
Fiat has also made an offer to buy Canada's 1.5 percent holding in Chrysler for $125 million and acquired the U.S. government's rights to buy shares held by the United Auto Workers retiree health-care trust fund.
Marchionne also said that a listing of Ferrari SpA, Fiat's most profitable unit, isn't on the table, while it's "always a possibility."
Fiat has enough liquidity and has "no urgency" to issue new bonds, Marchionne said.
On Wednesday, the Italian carmaker confirmed its financial targets for 2011, including net income of about 300 million euros and its plan to sell 6 million cars with Chrysler by 2014.
Marchionne is pushing Chrysler this year to raise its global sales by 32 percent to 2 million vehicles and turn an annual profit of $200 million to $500 million.
Chrysler last month posted a first-quarter net income of $116 million, its first since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. Global sales during that period increased by 18 percent.
No interest in buying Opel
Marchionne said that Fiat isn't interested in buying General Motors Co.'s Adam Opel unit.
German magazines Der Spiegel and Auto Bild reported on June 9 that GM is prepared to sell Opel as losses at the European division persist. Fiat was a suitor for Opel when it was for sale in 2009.