Fiat Industrial revealed slow progress in plans to merge with
farm equipment group CNH Global, where directors including the author behind
the film Wall Street have yet to rule on the proposal – amid talk of
Fiat Industrial, the maker of Iveco trucks, said that it has
"yet to receive a response" from a special committee CNH set up to examine the
tie-up plans, which were formally submitted on May 30.
Indeed, the committee, whose five members include author and
Oscar-winner Kenneth Lipper, has "just completed" sessions hearing of Fiat
Industrial's business plans.
"As is normal in these circumstances, the special committee
is engaged in an extensive due diligence process," said Fiat Industrial, which
owns 88% of CNH and is proposing a full merger through a share swap.
Sergio Marchionne, the chairman of both groups, said in May
that "it is important that we complete a transaction by the end of 2012.
"Given the significant work that will be required to meet
that goal, I trust that any committee and its advisors would be able to
evaluate the proposed transaction promptly so that we are able to reach a
definitive agreement within the next several weeks."
He also highlighted that CNH's minority shareholders "will
not have a separate vote on the transaction", which Fiat Industrial would support
with all of its 88% holding.
However, he did flag the importance of protecting "the
independence" of the CNH board in deciding on the deal ahead of it going to
Friday's statement follows talk that the independent directors
are raising doubts about deal terms, with a source telling Reuters that they
are "having doubts about the share swap ratios", and adding that the merger
looks unlikely to be completed before the end of the year.
Besides 61-year-old Mr Lipper - who won his Oscar in 1999 as
producer of The Last Days, and who is also a former deputy mayor of New York –
the special committee includes agriculture academic Dr Edward Hiler and former PricewaterhouseCoopers
vice-chairman Thomas Colligan.
Shares in CNH, the maker of Case and New Holland farm
equipment, closed 0.9% higher at $41.04 in New York.