Marchionne denies proposing combination of Fiat, Opel and PSA
Marchionne described the report on a Fiat, PSA, GM deal as "bizarre."
TURIN -- Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne denied a report that he approached PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and General Motors Co. earlier this month about a pan-European combination that would leapfrog Volkswagen as the region's largest automaker.
Marchionne proposed combining Fiat's automotive operations with PSA's and adding GM's Opel/Vauxhall unit if GM gave him $5 billion to $7 billion to restructure Opel, according to a Bloomberg report that cited people familiar with the matter as sources.
Marchionne told Automotive News Europe that the report was "bizarre."
He said he has conversations with GM CEO Dan Ackerson and PSA CEO Philippe Varin but Opel had not been discussed in the way the Bloomberg story described it.
"We discuss a variety of things when we chat, which is not a very frequent event. Fiat's condition in Europe has been discussed. I'm sure that there were comments that were made about Opel from time to time and I've discussed trading conditions in Europe with Philippe (Varin) from time to time," Marchionne said.
"I think we're all dismayed at the level of depressed pricing that we're seeing in Europe. I think that's a collective or a shared view, so there's nothing unusual about that. What is unusual in my view is that the story will break out about a potential transaction involving us and PSA and Opel. I mean it's bizarre," he said.
Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Marchionne is looking for a European partner to break the Italian automaker out of its isolation in the slumping region after GM and PSA formed an alliance earlier this year.
A Fiat-PSA-Opel combination would create an automotive grouping better able to compete with Volkswagen as the industry weathers the sovereign-debt crisis. Together, Fiat, PSA and Opel account for 25 percent of the region's auto sales, topping VW's 24.8 percent share.
Bloomberg sources said Marchionne's proposals never got to the negotiating stage because PSA favors its plans to ally with GM on purchasing and development projects. PSA wants to restructure its workforce before engaging in talks for a broader alliance and also is hesitant to partner with Fiat, which would increase exposure to Italy, Spain and France, while providing little advanced technology.
Marchionne tried unsuccessfully to acquire Opel when GM was considering selling the unit in 2009.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at email@example.com.