The Latest: Fiat Chrysler near zero debt, CEO says

The Latest on Fiat Chrysler's new business plan (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has told investors that he expects Fiat will reach zero debt by the end of this month, and maintained a promise to wear a tie to make the announcement.

The 65-year-old Italian-Canadian manager is famous for unfailingly wearing navy blue cashmere sweaters and never a tie, no matter the event. But as he announced the approach of the zero-debt milestone, Marchionne unzipped a knit cardigan to reveal a blue tie — the first, he said, he has worn in a decade.

Marchionne said debt is "a legacy that has dogged both Fiat and Chrysler for decades," and that erasing it "is a fundamental change in how this company is perceived. It is a significant milestone in the process of healing of a structural weakness."

The CEO said that the day-long presentation of a new business plan would focus on Jeep SUVs, Ram trucks and premium brands Maserati and Alfo Romeo. He said: "these brands comprise the most significant part of our revenues."


9:20 a.m.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is outlining his business plan for the automaker's next five years in his last big presentation to investors before retiring next year.

The presentation Friday of the 2018-2022 business plan marks Marchionne's grand finale, 14 years to the day after he was named Fiat CEO. During that time he has merged Fiat with U.S. carmaker Chrysler and spun off the industrial vehicle business and sports carmaker Ferrari.

Markets will be watching for Fiat's plans in Italy, where Marchionne has focused production on the premium Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands; the United States, where Fiat Chrysler has led the strategy of dumping passenger cars for higher-margin trucks and crossovers; and China.

Marchionne has said a successor would come from within the company.