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Chrysler to bank $2 billion as sales surge, CEO says

Chrysler, the smallest of the Detroit "Big Three" carmakers, has made an impressive return to form since it filed for bankruptcy in 2009. CEO Sergio Marchionne says it will rake in $2 billion from car and truck sales in 2011. However it still has to complete its merger with Fiat, run by Frenchman Olivier François.

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AFP - Chrysler is poised to rake in almost $2 billion in cash after sales of cars and trucks soared in 2011, the head of the US automaker and Italy's Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, said Monday.

"We're generating cash. The house is in good order," Marchionne told a news conference at the annual Detroit auto show.

He estimated "almost two billion" would flow into the Fiat-controlled company's coffers.

Chrysler Group, the smallest of the Detroit "Big Three" automakers, has made a solid U-turn under the guidance of Marchionne after emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.

The company raised its 2011 forecast of cash flow to more than $1.2 billion from previous estimate of above $1.0 billion when it reported in October a swing into profit in the third quarter.

Last week the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company posted the biggest 2011 gain in US vehicle sales among its major competitors: a jump of 26 percent from the prior year.

Confirming that by 2015, Fiat and Chrysler "will be one single company," Marchionne said that operationally "it is already functioning as one company."

Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, said the next steps will involve defining the corporate structure of the transatlantic firm.

The decision on where to locate the future company's headquarters has not been made, but he confirmed media reports that it could be in the Netherlands.

"The Europeans would see it as a victory" and "the Americans wouldn't care" as long as Chrysler remains a viable company, he said.

Fiat took over operational command of the US automaker in June 2009, when Chrysler emerged from a government-supported bankruptcy. In June 2011, it took a majority stake and now controls 58.5 percent of the company.

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