General Motors, which owns 10% of Fiat Auto, could soon be forced to buy the rest of the ailing automaker, but a leading auto industry analyst on Wednesday reportedly said such a move was highly unlikely.

“We really don’t see that Fiat Auto is going to end up in GM’s hands,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Scott Sprinzen told Reuters on a conference call.

He reportedly spoke when asked about Fiat SpA’s “put” option with GM, which was agreed in 2000 and could allow Italy’s largest industrial group to sell its own stake in Fiat Auto to GM as early as next January.

According to Reuters, Fiat insists the option is valid but GM contends a recapitalisation and other actions Fiat took under a recent recovery plan annulled the put.

The two sides reportedly have given themselves until December to sort things out but, short of some amicable agreement, Sprinzen said GM was likely to take legal action to prevent Fiat from exercising the put.

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“That could all be tied up in the courts for a long, long time,” Sprinzen told Reuters.

As a credit analyst, Sprinzen has regular meetings with top GM executives, the news agency noted.