Inside Politics

AUTOMOTIVE

U.S. ends Chrysler investment; Fiat ups stake

DETROIT — Italy’s Fiat SpA bought the U.S. and Canadian governments’ stakes in Chrysler Group LLC, becoming the majority shareholder in the U.S. automaker with the ability to appoint more board members.

Fiat now has 53.5 percent of Chrysler on a fully diluted basis, up from 46 percent, Auburn Hills-based Chrysler said in a regulatory filing Thursday. Fiat is on track to hold 58.5 percent of Chrysler by the end of the year.

A health care trust affiliated with the United Auto Workers and known as the VEBA holds the remaining shares of Chrysler.

The company and the union plan to begin negotiations on a new four-year contract Monday, the day before Chrysler is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings.

With majority ownership, Fiat now has the right to appoint a majority of the company’s nine-member board. Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive officer of both automakers, is selecting a group of managers to oversee both companies.

ELECTION

In betting world, Perry shares Romney’s odds

Texas Gov. Rick Perry may not have formally declared his presidential candidacy yet, but bettors on the news-futures website Intrade are already giving him the same chance of becoming the 2012 Republican nominee as presumed front-runner Mitt Romney.

Mr. Perry’s nomination odds reached a high of 33 percent Thursday, eclipsing Mr. Romney for the first time. The former Massachusetts governor, trading at 32 percent, has been Intrade’s 2012 favorite since betting on the GOP nomination began in 2008 and had even consolidated his front-runner status in recent months as his opponents stumbled and other would-be challengers opted not to run.

But the possible entry of Mr. Perry, a popular third-term Texas governor, has altered the equation for those seeking to profit off their ability to predict the race’s outcome.

Mr. Perry’s surge seems to have come primarily at the expense of fellow tea party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann. The Minnesota House Republican’s odds dropped from highs of 22 percent a few days ago to 9 percent after a report by the Daily Caller revealed that she gets migraine headaches.

HOUSE

Chamber passes to bill to rein in consumer agency

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