Chrysler Names Two Directors, Elects Sergio Marchionne Board Chairman

Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker majority-owned by Fiat SpA (F), named two new directors and elected Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both automakers, as Chrysler’s chairman.

Chrysler said it named Leo Houle and John Lanaway as independent directors, effective immediately. The directors appointed yesterday replace Robert Kidder, George Gosbee and Scott Stuart, who have decided to resign.

Marchionne is “just consolidating his position,” Gerald Meyers, a business professor at the University of Michigan, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “They will resoundingly underscore what Marchionne wants to do.”

Marchionne had said he expected to make changes to Chrysler’s board by the end of August. Fiat took a 53.5 percent stake on a fully diluted basis in July when it purchased the remaining U.S. Treasury and Canadian governments’ stakes in the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company.

Houle retired in July 2008 from BCE Inc. (BCE) and Bell Canada as chief talent officer.

Lanaway was executive vice president and chief financial officer of North America for McCann Erickson until June.

Houle and Lanaway were both elected to the board of CNH Global NV in 2006. The agricultural and construction equipment business is majority owned by Fiat Industrial SpA, which was spun off from Fiat last year.

Merger Plans

Marchionne, 59, aims to merge Fiat and Chrysler to reduce costs and generate more than 100 billion euros ($140 billion) in revenue by 2014. He said in May that timing hasn’t been decided, adding that it’s not likely this year. In July, he created a 22- person group executive council, including himself, to run both automakers.

Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009 and had nine board members. Three were appointed by Fiat, then holding a 20 percent stake, four by the U.S. government, one by the Canadian government and one by the United Auto Workers retiree health- care trust. The Turin, Italy-based automaker plans to own 58.5 percent by year’s end. The UAW’s trust holds the remainder.

The U.S. originally picked 3Stone Advisors LLC Chief Executive Officer Kidder; Stuart, founding partner of Sageview Capital LLC and former partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.; former Northwest Airlines Corp. Chief Executive Officer Douglas Steenland; and Ronald Thompson, chairman of the board of trustees for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association.

Steenland and Thompson remain on the board; Thompson was elected lead director, Chrysler said yesterday.

Gosbee, chairman and CEO of investment bank Tristone Capital Inc., was appointed by Canada.

Former Michigan Governor James Blanchard, a Democrat, was selected by the UAW trust. Marchionne, Alfredo Altavilla and Stephen Wolf, chairman of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. and former chairman and CEO of UAL Corp. and US Airways Group Inc., represent Fiat.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Higgins in Southfield, Michigan at thiggins21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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