CNH WILL formally sign its alliance with Kobelco on July 2, officially replacing the FiatHitachi European plant brand with Fiat-Kobelco.
The signing is expected to coincide with the clarification of the European dealer network.
This will be particularly keenly watched in the UK, because HM Plant, the current UK FiatHitachi distributor, has been in long negotiations with both CNH and with Hitachi, which is now going it alone.
HM has kept silent on the subject and has delayed the announcement of which franchise it will run until the last minute, leading industry observers to suspect that it is making the most of its bargaining position.
However, there are reports that the successful manufacturer has yet to offer a final contract.
Insiders are split on the subject. Many believe HM will opt for Fiat-Kobelco because of its established full line of equipment and because the two have an existing credit relationship.
Meanwhile others believe HM will vote to continue its success in selling Hitachis sourced from Japan.
It is widely believed that whichever manufacturer fails to sign HM will face difficulties in appointing a large enough independent firm to operate a national distributorship.
One senior industry source said: 'There just aren't that many plant companies with the infrastructure to run a nationwide franchise.
'So the loser will have to decide between a smaller dealer, forming its own UK network or running it direct from Europe.'