Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne changed his stance on the appeal of a potential merger with Volkswagen AG, saying he now has “zero interest” after being publicly spurned by company CEO Matthias Müller.
Marchionne had previously expressed a repeated interest in sharing business with the German automaker, especially with regard to green technologies.
However, after an initial remark where he said he was “not ruling out a conversation,” Müller explained that he had no direct contact with the FCA CEO. “It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you,” Müller told German reporters on Tuesday. “I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne,” he concluded.
The pronouncement did not go over well with Sergio, and he noticeably changed his tune when speaking to reporters just a day later.
“I will not call Matthias. I have no interest,” said Marchionne. “If he wants to come, he knows where I live. 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.”
“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,” Marchionne told the press on Wednesday after President Trump’s visit to Detroit. “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.”
Thanks to the fresh drama, the possibility of a merger between the two automakers seems less and less likely, although Marchionne seemed to indicate Müller could still reach out to him in what amounts to a look-who-came-crawling-back scenario and personally ask to make a deal. The prospects of that occurring seem less than certain.
We have a feeling this European telenovela is far from over.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] [Source: Reuters]