FCA CEO Marchionne sending mixed messages over potential VW merger

16 March 2017

16 March 2017

Despite bringing up the possibility of a merger with Volkswagen (VW) earlier this month, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) chief executive Sergio Marchionne has ′no interest’ in contacting Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller about a potential merger, but has not ruled out Mueller contacting him. 

Marchionne was responding to signals by Mueller that a merger with FCA was no longer completely off the table. 

He said: ′I will not call Matthias. I have no interest,’ but added he would be interested in listening to offers from Mueller, saying: ′If he wants to come, he knows where I live.’ 

He further attempted to clarify by referring to Opel’s merger with PSA, saying: ′I only said that if you were the No. 1 automaker in Europe and somebody combines with another automaker to become the second and gets very close to your position, your very first reaction is to distance the second again. [″¦] We are the only natural combination partner for somebody who wants to do that. If you were playing a chess board game, that’s what you would do.’ 

Responding to Mueller’s comment that he wished Marchionne would speak to him about potential consolidation and not just the media, Marchionne said: ′I didn’t chase him and I have no intention of chasing him. But if I’m right on consolidation and the fact you need to build scale, we’re the natural place to go for him.’ 

This contradicts previous statements from Marchionne, who is pro-consolidation and has said he would like to do one more big deal before retiring in 2019. He has previously said he would ′[gladly knock at] any door, if I thought it was a good thing for the business. Without even blinking.’ 

Perhaps Marchionne is rowing back from his pro-consolidation advocacy now that a potential deal is on the table.