Renault has its Nissan. Jealous PSA seeks the company of a pretty Japanese bride of its own. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. confirmed to the Nikkei [sub] today that it is in talks with PSA Peugeot-Citroen about some financial shibari. The capital tie-up could see PSA take a majority position in Mitsubishi Motors.
“We have been talking whether we can have deeper relationship, and a capital tie-up is one among many options,” said a Mitsubishi Motors spokesman, declining to comment on the scale or value of any potential deal. The Nikkei [sub] reported earlier Thursday that PSA could buy a stake of 30 percent to 50 percent in Mitsubishi Motors and become its biggest shareholder.
The nampa between Mitsubishi and PSA had been off an on since 1999. Last September, PSA and Mitsubishi Motors signed a deal to allow the French company to start selling electric vehicles in Europe before the end of 2010. In October, Peugeot chief executive Philippe Varin said his company will have four small electric vehicles ready for sale in 2010, including two small city cars. One of these will be based on a vehicle Peugeot-Citroen will buy from Mitsubishi.
Apparently, the petting has progressed to third base.
PSA’s CEO had made noises recently that the Peugeot family may approve of a dalliance or alliance with another automotive group, provided that it creates value for Peugeot-Citroen shareholders and doesn’t impinge on its independence. Any deal would also need a “hai” from Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which have respective stakes of 14 percent and 15.6 percent in the Japanese auto maker.
The Mitsubishi group would be open to the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group taking a majority stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. an executive related to the matter said later on Thursday to the Nikkei [sub]
A “senior official of a major Mitsubishi group firm that owns Mitsubishi Motors preferred shares” (how about that for protecting a source) said to the Nikkei that “We are aware that, given the tough global competition, Mitsubishi Motors, which turns out about 1 million vehicles a year, would not be able to survive on its own.”
As for the possibility of Peugeot taking a majority stake, the executive said “It is natural to suppose so.”
As far as dalliances with gaijin carmakers go, Mitsubishi has been around the block a few times. 1971, a significant stake in the company was sold to Chrysler. Daimler-Chrysler was a controlling shareholder between 2000 and 2005.