(New York) CNN Money — Chrysler Group filed for an initial public offering on Monday, potentially setting the stage for the automaker's return to the public market.
The shares being sold in the offering are those of a trust established to cover medical benefits for retired workers that now owns 41.5% of the company.
The trust was set up in 2007 as a way of reducing Chrysler's financial burden of paying these health care costs. It was never supposed to have a large share of its assets in the form of a privately held stock, but with Chrysler running out of cash the following year and falling into bankruptcy in early 2009, the only asset it could offer was its own stock.
The price range and number of shares in the offering haven't yet been determined. The offering is being led by JPMorgan.
Italian automaker Fiat rescued Chrysler from bankruptcy in 2009 and now owns 58.5% of the the company. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is on record as saying he wants Fiat to own all of Chrysler and to merge the two companies. The preparations for an IPO suggest he has been unable to agree to a deal with the trust to buy its shares directly, rather than sell them to the public.
Still, the IPO process could help the trust and Fiat agree on a fair market value for the company.
Marchionne has been the CEO of both carmakers since Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy with the two companies almost operating as one. Chrysler has even started selling Fiat vehicles in the United States for the first time in decades.
Fiat bought the 8% of the shares in the company that were initially owned by the U.S. Treasury as a result of the bailout. And it was able to get other shares through the transfer of Fiat technology to Chrysler.