He came to watch a race, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne took some time out from a busy Saturday at the Italian Formula One Grand Prix to squash some rumors.
You know the ones. Reports emerged last month that Chinese automakers were hanging around FCA’s door, just waiting for a chance to sweep the company off its feet. An unnamed company pitched a buyout offer, the story goes. Not high enough, FCA allegedly responded. Another company, Great Wall Motors, isn’t interested in FCA, just its lucrative and growth-poised Jeep division.
Is a Chinese-Italian-American automaker in the works? Will the buck one day stop in Beijing or Shanghai, instead of at the desks of Auburn Hills executives? Hardly, says Marchionne. No one wants to dance with FCA.
The chief executive replied, “No,” when asked whether another automaker has approached the company, or whether there’s an offer on the table, Reuters reports.
Lord knows FCA’s tried. The years-long wooing of General Motors’ Mary Barra went nowhere, and Volkswagen brushed off Marchionne’s merger advances in a typically brusque fashion. Despite claiming he has no interest in pursuing a merger with VW, the two companies are reportedly engaged in early talks for a potential van and truck partnership.
Of course, just because there’s no offer hanging in the air doesn’t mean FCA won’t find itself at the negotiating table sometime in the near future. The automaker is presently attempting to streamline (“purify,” in Sergio speak) its portfolio in anticipation of just such an opportunity.
FCA’s component’s division is an obvious target. “There are activities within the group that do not belong to a car manufacturer, for example the components businesses,” Marchionne said Saturday. “The group needs to be cleared of those things.”
One thing not in the spinoff file — at least, not yet — is the company’s Maserati and Alfa Romeo divisions. While Marchionne wants FCA’s parts division gone by the end of 2018, its two Italian luxury marques aren’t mature enough to leave the family home, he claims.
“The way we see it now, it’s almost impossible, if not impossible, to see a spin-off of Alfa Romeo/Maserati, these are two entities that are immature and in a development phase,” Marchionne said. To attract offers, interested automakers must be assured of the brands’ ability to generate profits. With Maserati going electrified in the near future and Alfa struggling to reach sales predictions (and with its new product push only just getting underway), FCA couldn’t expect top dollar for the two marques.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]