Fiat Industrial Investors Approve Merger Plan With CNH

Fiat Industrial SpA moved a step closer to completing a combination with its CNH Global NV farm-equipment division in a move aimed at improving growth prospects by shifting focus to the U.S.

Almost 98 percent of Fiat Industrial shareholders voted in favor of the deal at a meeting today in Turin, Italy, where the truck and tractor maker, which was spun off from Fiat SpA in 2011, is based, according to the company.

“Fiat Industrial and CNH will be a totally integrated group, able to compete at the highest level of the capital-goods sector and appeal to international investors,” Chairman Sergio Marchionne said today at the meeting. The combined company “will have the flexibility to pursue growth and consolidation opportunities when they arise.”

CNH, the maker of Case and New Holland bulldozers and tractors, is 88 percent-owned by Fiat Industrial. The two companies agreed to merge after Fiat Industrial improved an earlier offer for full control in November.

The new company, which will be called CNH Industrial, will have its primary listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Marchionne, who will be president of the new company, is seeking to shift the manufacturer away from its roots in Italy, which is in its fourth recession since 2001. CNH Industrial plans to move legal headquarters to the U.K. for tax purposes.

The combination would create the world’s third-largest capital-goods company with a product line spanning Iveco delivery trucks, New Holland harvesters and FPT ship engines. CNH shareholders will meet July 23 to vote on the deal.

The deal could work as a “technical blueprint” for the combination between Turin-based Fiat and its Chrysler division in the U.S., Marchionne, who is also chief executive officer of the two carmakers, said last year.

Both Fiat Industrial and Fiat are controlled by Exor SpA, the investment company of Italy’s Agnelli family. Exor has said it plans to keep its voting rights above 30 percent to maintain control of the manufacturer that’s set up in the CNH merger.

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