According to Automotive News, a large Chinese automaker recently had a bid for the Fiat Chrysler (FCA) turned down.
The Chinese bid was was reportedly rejected as it valued FCA at only a small premium over the Italian-American car maker's sharemarket value.
Before news of this bid leaked out, FCA was trading at US$11.61 ($14.70), meaning the company had a valuation of US$17.8 billion ($22.5 billion). Fiat Chrysler's price has since shot up 8.5 per cent to around US$12.60 ($15.95)
Above: Jeep Compass.
A number of Chinese automakers have been doing the sums, and meeting dealers and FCA executives, sources have told the industry paper.
It's not entirely clear which automaker put a bid in, and which ones are sniffing around, but names mentioned include Dongfeng, Geely, Great Wall, and Guangzhou Automobile Group, FCA's current joint venture manufacturing partner in China.
Dongfeng, already has a sizeable stake in the PSA Group, owner of the Peugeot, Citroen, and DS, and now Opel and Vauxhall too.
If a Chinese car maker is successful in a bid to buy Fiat Chrysler, it would gain instant access to the important European and American markets, as well as significant presence in Brazil and Latin America.
Although Chinese car makers have dipped their toes into the European market, and exhibited at motor shows in the US, they have yet to make any significant inroads in developed countries.
To date, the most prominent and successful automotive takeover by a Chinese car maker has been Geely's purchase of Volvo Cars from Ford in 2010. The Chinese government has reportedly sanctioned its automakers to go out and seek other overseas acquisitions.
Currently Fiat Chrysler markets cars under eight different brands, with the European part of company housing Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, and Maserati, and the American wing responsible for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram.
According to Automotive News, Alfa Romeo and Maserati will be spun off into their own company to be controlled by the Agnelli family, which at present has a controlling interest in Fiat Chrysler via its 30 per cent shareholding.
The move is said to be similar to how Fiat Chrysler divested itself of Ferrari in 2015. In that situation, 10 per cent of Ferrari was listed on the New York stock exchange, with the remainder of the company distributed among FCA's shareholders, with the Agnelli and Ferrari gaining preferred stock to retain control of the sports car maker.
Fiat Chrysler effectively put a "For Sale" sign on its front lawn in 2015 when its boss, Sergio Marchionne, began actively courting a merger with GM, although these overtures were publicly rebuffed by the larger automaker.
In 2016, the company axed its slow-selling Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans, leaving the company's American range devoid of any small or medium sedans. With the company's mass market focus firmly fixed on the Jeep and Ram brands, many believed the company was making itself a more attractive takeover target.
The company also began aggressively tackling its debt problem, and Marchionne has recently floated the idea of selling off some of the company's subsidiaries, including the parts maker Magneti Marelli, casting company Teksid, and industrial automation specialist Comau.
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