Fiat Chrysler open to mergers, and PSA is looking for one

FCA boss Mike Manley seems to return the French automaker's interest

GENEVA — Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is open to pursuing alliances and merger opportunities if they make sense, but a sale of its luxury brand Maserati is not an option, Chief Executive Mike Manley said on Tuesday.

"We have a strong independent future, but if there is a partnership, a relationship or a merger which strengthens that future, I will look at that," Manley told reporters at the Geneva Motor Show.

Asked whether he would consider selling Maserati to China's Geely Automobile Holdings, as suggested by recent media reports, Manley said: "Maserati is one of our really beautiful brands and it has an incredibly bright future. ... No."

FCA is often cited as a possible merger candidate. Bloomberg said this week that the Italian-American carmaker was attractive to France's PSA Group given its exposure to the U.S. market and its popular Jeep brand. The Detroit News' headline on the situation Friday read, "Fiat Chrysler CEO open to a deal as PSA circles" and stated that Manley's open-to-just-about-anything comments were aimed directly at PSA.

Bloomberg said talks between the two were preliminary and said PSA chief Carlos Tavares has also contemplated mergers with General Motors or Jaguar Land Rover, which is losing money for Indian owner Tata. PSA has enjoyed a decade of turnaround and has $10.2 billion in net cash available. The maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS, acquired Opel and Vauxhall in 2017 and made them almost instantly profitable.

Manley, who took over after the death of Sergio Marchionne, said he currently had no news on possible deals.

Manley also said the world's seventh-largest carmaker, which is lagging rivals in developing hybrid and electric vehicles, would take the least costly approach to comply with increasingly more stringent European emissions regulations.

"There are three options. You can sell enough electrified vehicles to balance your fleet. Two: You can be part of a pooling scheme. Three is to pay the fines," he said.

"I don't see a scenario when (carmakers) continue to subsidize technologies ... indefinitely."

The carmaker had said last June it would invest 9 billion euros ($10.19 billion) over the next five years to introduce hybrid and electric cars across all regions to be fully compliant with emissions regulations.

Asked about a 5-billion-euro investment plan for Italy FCA announced in November but then put under review, Manley said the plan had been confirmed as originally presented.

The plan was examined earlier this year after Rome approved new taxes on the purchase of larger gasoline and diesel cars.

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