Fiat Chrysler Was in Geely's Sights Before Daimler Deal: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

After last week’s announcement of a $9 billion Daimler stock buy-up by China’s Geely Group, an old story is once again rearing its head. Remember last year’s buzz surrounding a possible takeover of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles? The rumors CEO Sergio Marchionne subsequently refuted? Yes, that story.

A new report claims Geely did indeed give FCA the once-over, even engaging in preliminary talks. Obviously, this first date went nowhere, as Geely now owns nearly 10 percent of German auto giant Daimler, not the maker of Jeeps and Rams.

Sources tell Bloomberg that in the middle of last year, Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., approached FCA. Shufu, always on the hunt for non-Chinese holdings (Geely owns Volvo Cars and Lotus, to name a couple), engaged in informal talks with the automaker, but adding FCA — or a large chunk of its stock — to the billionaire’s portfolio just wasn’t in the cards.

No offer was made, the sources claim. Apparently, Shufu and FCA disagreed over the automaker’s future valuation once the current five-year plan wraps up. This jibes with statements made by Geely following last year’s Reuters report.

As for that fresh 9.7 percent stake in Daimler, Geely didn’t go about the stock buy in the usual way. Bloomberg reports the automaker snapped up the shares via a derivatives transaction. The collar trade, allegedly led by Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, would be the largest single-stock deal of its kind. Such a setup would limit Geely’s financial losses if Daimler’s stock were to suddenly tank. It also puts a ceiling on how much cash Geely could reap if Daimler’s shares blow up.

While Daimler appears to welcome the stock purchase, claiming it’s encouraged by Shufu’s confidence in the automaker’s future, Germany seems a little wary of the deal. On Monday, various German newspapers reported (via Reuters) that a Parliamentary committee will question officials to ensure the Daimler-Geely deal is on the up and up.

Last year, Germany tightened laws aimed preventing the foreign takeover of domestic businesses. Geely’s 9.7 percent stake falls well below the 25 percent marker, which is point where the German government can step in to kibosh a deal. Speaking about Geely, German economy minister Brigitte Zypries steered clear of specifics, saying only that her country’s industry must not be “exploited” by other countries.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Geozinger Geozinger on Feb 28, 2018

    I'm kind of surprised that Geely didn't make an offer to buy part/all of FCA. OTOH, I would have to imagine that Daimler would be a pretty safe bet. I have read that FCA should be debt-free in the near future (I don't remember the exact time frame). Maybe the Agnelli family is waiting it out to extract the maximum benefit. Regardless, it seems to me that eventually the Chinese automakers won't even need to buy companies wholesale, they'll just own bits and pieces all over the place. Many streams and all that...

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Feb 28, 2018

    Why is the truck pictured with kayaks instead of a speedboat? Do their market research people know something everyone else doesn't? Or they lost their minds. Or as a joke?

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
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  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
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