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Fiat Chrysler in talks for $6.8 bn loan to tide over coronavirus crisis

If approved by the lender, the request will be reviewed by Italy's export credit agency SACE

Fiat Chrysler | Coronavirus | Lockdown

Reuters  |  Milan (Italy) 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
A woman walks past a logo of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in Turin | Photo: Reuters

Automobiles (FCA), an Italian-American multinational corporation, is in talks with Intesa Sanpaolo for a 6.3 billion euro ($6.8 billion) loan backed by Italian government to help the automaker weather the coronavirus-induced crisis, Reuters reported quoting the sources.

This comes after and Peugeot owner PSA said in a coordinated move that they would not pay their planned ordinary dividend on 2019 results due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as part of the tie-up deal, FCA is also due to pay to its shareholders a special dividend of 5.5 billion euros just before the closing of the merger, which the two groups confirmed was expected before the end of the first quarter of next year.

FCA has gradually restarted its operations in Italy since the end of April. The crisis erased demand for new vehicles and pushed manufacturers to halt most production, burning cash. The loan, which is part of emergency liquidity measures the government is making available to Italy's businesses, must be approved by Intesa Sanpaolo's board, the report said.

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If approved by the lender, the request will be reviewed by Italy's export credit agency SACE, through which the state provides its guarantee, and then by the Treasury for a final green light.

Intesa Sanpaolo would act as lead lender and that the loan to FCA would be issued by a pool of banks. FCA and Intesa aim to promptly set details and quickly submit the deal to SACE, the report added.

Netherlands-headquartered Fiat Chrysler, runs several plants in Italy and may qualify through its local unit for the government scheme, which offers more than 400 billion euros' worth of liquidity and to hit by the pandemic.

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Under the scheme, state guarantees cover 80 per cent of loans for with annual revenues of 1.5 billion to 5 billion euros and 70 per cent for with revenues over 5 billion euros.

FCA was entitled to get 70 per cent guarantees but that it was asking for 80 per cent, taking advantage of a clause in the scheme favouring companies with operations in industries deemed essential. Companies using Rome's scheme for state guarantees on loans must refrain from approving dividend payments for a year.

In the first quarter of this year, FCA's industrial free cash flow was a negative 5 billion euros. But FCA said it had available liquidity of 18.6 billion euros as of March 31, including a 6.25 billion revolving credit facility which was fully drawn down in April.

Last month, FCA completed the syndication of a 3.5 billion euro credit facility with banks.

First Published: Sat, May 16 2020. 11:00 IST