There's More Than One Name in This Little Black Book, Manley Tells Renault

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Maybe that’s a dated reference in this age of smartphones and hookup romance apps. Regardless, the list of potential partners for a prowling Fiat Chrysler doesn’t begin and end with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Oh sure, it wouldn’t mind getting down to business with the French-Japanese auto giant, but there’s plenty of fish in the sea. FCA knows it’s a catch, and wants to put Renault on notice that it has plenty of choice in who it goes home with.

It seems the advent of the Manley era hasn’t watered down the automaker’s penchant for amorous corporate overtures, which is a great thing for writers everywhere.

In last week’s earnings call, FCA CEO Mike Manley alluded to the failed attempt to lure Renault into a merger — a proposal sunk, perhaps only temporarily, by the demands of a protective French government and a hesitant Nissan.

“There’s little in the marketplace that is not covered by the portfolio we have, so long as we do the things right that we need to get right,” Manley said late last week, as reported by Bloomberg. “Could we accelerate something with a complimentary additional brand? The answer to that, of course, is yes.”

Making sure his company’s would-be merger partner took notice, Manley made explicit mention of the withdrawn proposal. “So are they the only opportunity?” he asked, referring to Renault. “The answer to that question would be a definitive ‘No.'”

A merger between FCA and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance would mean the creation of the world’s third-largest automaker, with joint R&D and platform/technology sharing leading to opportunities for all brands under the massive umbrella. It seems the door is still open for such a pair-up, as well as smaller potential partnerships. Basically, whatever interesting opportunity comes FCA’s way.

A FCA spokesperson said the automaker currently has no acquisitions in the works.

Manley’s remarks came as reports emerged of renewed negotiations between Renault and Nissan, with the French company allegedly mulling a reduction of its 43.4 percent stake in the Japanese automaker to ensure its support in a merger with FCA.

While FCA would prefer to have Renault-Nissan on board, Manley claims his company is nonetheless primed for growth. The lucrative Jeep brand hasn’t yet fully tapped the European market, he said, and the automaker’s China strategy will involve an expansion of the Fiat brand and the introduction of locally-built “white space” models to fill any gaps.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Aug 05, 2019

    Yeah if they were such a catch they wouldn't still be setting at the bar at closing time. It wasn't long after Daimler defiled Chrysler that they tried dumping off the Chrysler and Dodge brands to no takers, everyone asked about the pretty sister Jeep but no one wanted to touch the homely ones. Even after they relented and through Jeep into the mix, everyone said, sure we'll take her home but you can keep the rest. It wasn't until they found the drunk, and blind bankers that they found someone to take the whole mess home. Of course they didn't have a clue as to what they were doing. FCA only messed took it because it was free and they have been trying to find a suitor for years now.

    • Darex Darex on Aug 06, 2019

      Very well, and accurately stated. You forgot the part where they pursued the mail-order bride from the Orient -- who also said "no, thank you." Quite a pathetic and hollow threat, FCA. As if the French, of all people, don't know that game!

  • Steve203 Steve203 on Aug 05, 2019

    Floating buyout rumors to prop up the price of the stock has been SOP at FCA since Marchionne got the operation turned around. The only difference with the Renault deal was that Renault, alone among supposed FCA suitors, actually admitted to being interested. His talk of getting any growth out of China is delusional. Jeep volume is so low in China that in the first six months of this year, they only sold half as many cars as Jeep sells in the US in one month. Sales in China are down 48% for the first half of 2019 vs 2018. Fiat has essentially been withdrawn from China with the cancellation of the Viaggio and Ottimo a couple years ago.

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