Chinese Automakers Are Sweet and Sour on Fiat Chrysler Ownership

After a bombshell report stated multiple Chinese automakers are courting Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the interests of a buyout, the country’s most well known manufacturer says it wasn’t the one making an offer.

Geely Automotive, an unknown entity until its parent holding company’s 2010 purchase of Ford castoff Volvo Cars, claims it isn’t planning a takeover of the Italian-American automaker. However, it’s not like Geely’s parent company doesn’t have deep pockets. Surely there’s roughly $20 billion in clanky bits somewhere in those trousers.

Still, a source claims Zhejiang Geely Holding Group did hold preliminary talks with FCA late last year.

According to Reuters (via Automotive News Europe), Gui Shengyue, Geely Automobile’s executive director, rejects claims that his company is the “well-known Chinese automaker” cited in the initial report. The offer reportedly wasn’t enough to lead FCA to the altar.

“We don’t have such plan at the moment,” Shengyue told reporters following the report.

Monday’s Automotive News piece names Dongfeng Motor Corp., Great Wall Motor Co., Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, and Guangzhou Automobile Group (FCA’s Chinese joint partner) as being among the interested parties.

While Geely is said to have met with FCA, the same Reuters source claims it has its hands full with other ventures and is no longer interested. Certainly, there’s no shortage of existing ventures to tie up Geely’s manpower and finances — its recently purchased minority stake in Malaysia’s Proton and majority stake in British sports car maker Lotus, its development of the mysterious Lynk & Co brand, and its lucrative Volvo tie-up, to name a few. The Chinese company’s profits more than doubled in the first half of 2017, helped by its ownership of the upmarket Swedish brand (and its clever engineers).

So, if it isn’t Geely standing at the door, flowers in hand, who is it? FCA isn’t talking. Still, if a company does pull off a successful offer, “it could be a fast track for their development,” Shengyue said.

The sharing of knowledge across the Pacific has the potential to benefit both companies, with the American party given greater access to a large and growing market (not to mention cash), and the Chinese party gaining access to new technology. Perhaps the EV-heavy Chinese manufacturing landscape would benefit the notoriously EV-shy FCA as environmental regulators across the globe tighten the noose.

Officially, FCA’s at home in its room after a double rejection from General Motors and Volkswagen earlier this year. The latter would-be suitor, if you recall, wasn’t particularly nice about it.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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