Sergio's Urge to Merge Falls Flat, Leads to Dinner for One
It’s often sad to witness the moment when an individual’s high hopes collide with a cold, antiseptic wall of reality. Though we should all aspire for more, the inescapable truth is that most of our dreams will end up dashed on the rocks.
This week it was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s turn — once again — to face rejection. Buoyed by PSA Group’s acquisition of General Motors’ European car divisions, Marchionne must have assumed that love was in the air and it would perhaps soon be FCA’s turn to go home with another automaker.
Unfortunately for Marchionne, one potential mate quickly burst that balloon in a fairly heartbreaking fashion.
Under Marchionne’s leadership, FCA has attempted to cozy up to General Motors before. GM, however, has always spurned those advances. Always the persistent one, Marchionne took advantage of his Geneva Motor Show appearance yesterday to let his domestic rival know FCA was waiting, and available.
“I never close any doors. I may shamelessly try and knock again … on the GM door or any door if I thought it was a good thing for the business. Absolutely, without even blinking,” Marchionne told reporters. “The desirability of GM as a potential merger candidate remains untouched.”
GM unloaded Opel and Vauxhall to strengthen its profitability, leaving many to wonder how a debt-laden FCA could make a merger seem at all attractive, despite the other automaker’s strong European presence. The General, no stranger to Marchionne’s boombox serenades, hasn’t taken up that offer.
It was Volkswagen, however, that delivered a thrust right through the heart.
In another moment of boundless optimism, Marchionne explained to Geneva journalists yesterday that Volkswagen Group’s new PSA-Opel threat could send that company on the prowl for a partner. When it does, FCA would be there with open arms.
“I have no doubt that at the relevant time VW may show up and have a chat,” Marchionne said.
After hearing this, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller slapped down the possibility with a not unexpected level of German curtness.
“We are not ready for talks about anything,” Müller told Reuters on the show’s sidelines, possibly while looking over his shoulder for an approaching sweater. “I haven’t seen Marchionne for months,” he added.
Not willing to leave it there, Müller dialed up the venom and made his company’s feelings crystal clear.
“We have other problems,” he said.
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