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Judge says leans toward UAW trust in Fiat suit on Chrysler stake

By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - A Delaware judge said on Thursday he was leaning toward siding with a United Auto Workers trust in a dispute with Fiat SpA over the sale of a stake of car maker Chrysler Group LLC.

Fiat has a call option to buy from the trust a 3.3 percent stake in Chrysler and has offered to pay $139.7 million. The UAW trust has said in papers filed with Delaware's Court of Chancery that the stake is worth at least $342 million because Fiat has improperly accounted for debt of Chrysler.

"I'm kind of leaning in his direction," judge Donald Parsons said on Thursday, indicating he favored the argument of trust attorney Robert Hirth of Sidley Austin.

The hearing was still underway on Thursday morning, and the issue of accounting for the Chrysler debt was one of three main disputes regarding the stake sale.

(Reporting By Tom Hals; Editing by Chris Reese)

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