Marchionne backs off merger plans, could retire after 2018

FCA boss Sergio Marchionne is stepping back from plans to attempt a major auto industry merger like the oft-speculated deal with General Motors last year. According to Bloomberg, Marchionne now wants to grow his automaker through 2018, and then the 63-year-old could retire around the end of that year.

Marchionne claims he received merger proposals last year, but he couldn't find an attractive enough partnership. "We went back to concentrate on the 2018 plan which would boost Fiat Chrysler's value and its position in a deal," he said to Bloomberg. He still believes that a big merger is possible, but "it will be someone else's duty," he said after previously hinting about possibly staying at FCA until 2020.

Marchionne was clear that any chance for the GM merger was likely over. "I met Mary Barra less than a month ago in Washington," he told Bloomberg. "I don't think I will have another coffee with her. It won't happen again in the future."

Now, the boss intends to spend the rest of his time at FCA building the automaker through its five-year plan, and his goal is to grow global deliveries to seven million units a year by 2018. To make that happen, the automaker will invest around $52 billion over that time to improve its brands' product slate.

Marchionne began backtracking from the possible GM merger late in 2015 after it became clear that The General's board wasn't interested. Earlier in the year, he seemed more aggressive about the prospect by suggesting a hostile takeover with a bizarre metaphor about giving the company a hug.

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