There were rumblings late last year that Fiat may sell off part of its stake in Ferrari to help raise cash to fund its merger with Chrysler, with the famous sports car manufacturer from Maranello at the time being valued at around $3.3 billion.

Speaking recently to an investment group keen to see the sale of Ferrari, along with a possible initial public offering (IPO), Marchionne said that Ferrari was worth at least $7.3 billion. This is about $3 billion more than what analysts believe Ferrari is worth and close to 63 percent of Fiat's entire market value.

Ferrari, after all, is the Italian auto giant’s most profitable unit, earning some $443 million last year on the back of revenues of more than $2.8 billion. What’s more, Marchionne explains that Ferrari is “sacred” and that this adds a certain value that is immeasurable.

In addition to this, Ferrari is targeting sales of more than 8,000 cars per year within the next eight years, a substantial jump from the 6,573 cars sold last year and the 6,800-7,000 predicted for 2011. The key reason is growth in emerging markets such as China, India and Latin America.

Despite Ferrari being such a valuable asset, investment groups are pitching Marchionne to sell it in order to enable Fiat to reduce its debt and improve its credit rating. For now, there are no plans to sell the brand, Marchionne explains, as Fiat has sufficient cash on hand.

Marchionne, incidentally, has just ordered a brand new Ferrari FF in white to join his black Enzo (pictured above) that he recently showed off in front of media.

[Automotive News,  sub req’d]