05/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fiat Scrambles To Finish Chrysler Deal Ahead Of Deadline

Marchionne, who will present Fiat's first-quarter results Thursday, has just eight days to nail a revised pact with Chrysler and its Cerberus Capital Management parent amid brinksmanship by labor, creditors and the Obama administration that could yet push the third-largest U.S. auto maker into bankruptcy and possible liquidation.

The Italian company has long sought access to the U.S. market, despite a disastrous flirtation with General Motors Co. (GM) earlier in the decade. Access to the U.S. would move it towards the scale that Marchionne believes will consolidate the global auto industry into five or six groups. But Fiat's $9.6 billion debt and a credit rating teetering on the edge of junk status limit its flexibility to persuade the U.S. auto task force that it can rescue Chrysler.