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UPDATE 1-Stellantis to start reshuffle of dealer network next year

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VERONA, Italy, May 18 (Reuters) - Stellantis will start a reshuffle of its European dealers' network next year from Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, and its van and premium brands in all markets, its regional sales chief said on Wednesday.

As part of its efforts to cut costs and finance its electrification strategy, the carmaker, formed through the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France's PSA, has said it would end all current sales and services contracts with European dealers for its 14 brands, effective form June 2023.

The plan is to move its distribution structure in Europe towards an "agency model", where carmakers take more control of sales transactions and prices while dealers focus on handovers and servicing, no longer acting as the customer's contractual partner.

"We will start in June next year with all our van brands and with our premium brands - Alfa Romeo, DS and Lancia - in all markets, and on three pilot markets, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands with all our brands," Stellantis' sales chief for 'Enlarged Europe' region Maria Grazia Davino said.

She added the new distribution structure would be operational in all of Europe's 10 largest markets by 2026.

"We will anticipate all that we can, but this is our schedule at the moment," she said during an "Automotive dealer day" event in Verona, northern Italy.

Davino said core elements of the new contract Stellantis will propose to retailers are expected to be ready by this summer, while a final set up would be prepared by year-end.

"Our direction is to envisage a 5% fee for our retailers on new cars sold, we're working on this hypothesis," she said. "We're into a transition of course, then we'll see".

She added that in the first stage of this process retailers would earn different fees for different brands, with some higher ones for premium brands. Retailers will also get a variable performance bonus based on sales targets, she said. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari Editing by Keith Weir)