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Chrysler CEO: We'll pay you back

By Chris Isidore and Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writers


DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Tuesday that the federal government will get its money back -- and may even turn a profit -- from its rescue of the Automaker.

Marchionne's comments at the Detroit Auto Show come a day after GM CEO Ed Whitacre promised that the U.S. taxpayer would profit from the $50 billion bailout of his company.

For the government to make money on its 10% stake in Chrysler, the automaker would have to become a publicly traded company, something Marchionne said could happen in 2011.

Rival General Motors, which went through bankruptcy just after Chrysler has said it could be ready to sell shares in the second half of this year.

Marchionne's prediction of a taxpayer profit was less adamant than GM's promise made Monday. He cautioned that, "There's going to be a limited opportunity to do that here at Chrysler." But he emphasized his pledge that Chrysler will repay its $7 billion Treasury loan, with interest.

GM has already started early repayment of its loans and will complete the payments by June, Marchionne did not say when Chrysler would begin repaying its debt.

Most of the money provided to Chrysler was in the form of loans. The rest was turned into a minority equity stake. Chrysler would have to be worth more than $60 billion for the government to make a profit. By comparison. Ford Motor Co., which made $1 billion in the third quarter of 2009 and has seen its stock rise about 360%, is worth only $38 billion. To top of page

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