MILAN (AP) -- Fiat vice chairman John Elkann said Tuesday that the viability of an alliance between Fiat and Chrysler won't be known until Thursday, the U.S. government's deadline for Chrysler to wrap up a deal, Italian news agencies reported.
"The situation with Chrysler will be decided Thursday evening Italian time, and up until that time we won't have much to say," Elkann said at the close of meeting of Exor shareholders in Turin, according to the Italian news agencies Apcom and ANSA. Exor is the investment company of the Agnelli family -- of which Elkann is the principal heir -- and the leading shareholder in the Fiat Group.
Asked what Fiat's role would be should Chrysler be forced into bankruptcy protection, Elkann said that depended on what version of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was employed. "There are lots of variations of Chapter 11. We need to be patient until Thursday."
Elkann voiced his full support for Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, who has been in the United States working on the deal.
"We are in touch mostly via text messages. As you know, the negotiations are in the hand of the U.S. government task force ... Let's hope for a positive solution for Chrysler, which is the most imprint thing," Elkann said.
Asked if Fiat also was working on a deal to take on the General Motor's German subsidiary, Opel, Elkann said: "Marchionne is interested in understanding what is happening in the auto world and to evaluate the opportunities."
Fiat is in talks to take over a 20 percent stake in Chrysler in exchange for small car and other technology. A top German negotiator also has said that Fiat is interested in acquiring Opel, although Marchionne has said there have been no direct talks.