Ever since Sergio Marchionne snuck in to see the “The Graduate”as an underage teen in the 1960s, he's had a soft spot for AlfaRomeo, the maker of the Spider Duetto convertible Dustin Hoffman'scharacter drove in the film.

Four decades later, Marchionne is the chief executive officer ofAlfa Romeo's parent Fiat SpA and wants to return the strugglingbrand to its former glory. To pull it off, he needs cash fromFiat-controlled Chrysler Group LLC. The problem is that he hasn'tfound a way to get it, as a union trust that owns the remainingshares of Chrysler holds out for at least $1 billion more than theCEO wants to pay.

Unlocking Chrysler's $12 billion piggy bank is about more thanjust refreshing Alfa Romeo and fulfilling the dreams of a “youngidiot,” as Marchionne, 61, called himself as a teenager in Canada.Fiat's ability to recover from losses in Europe depends oncombining with Chrysler and accessing the American company'sresources to fund long-delayed new vehicles and stop a downwardspiral in its home region.

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