DETROIT (Bloomberg) – Fiat Industrial, the truck and tractor maker spun off from Fiat S.p.A. this month, expressed interest in acquiring Volkswagen AG's stakes in truck makers MAN SE and Scania AB after VW said it wanted to buy Alfa Romeo from Fiat.
“We're not a seller of assets but at Fiat we are potentially acquirers, if Volkswagen wants to divest its truck assets,” Fiat Industrial Chairman Sergio Marchionne said at the Detroit auto show Monday. Spokesmen for VW, MAN and Scania all declined to comment. Fiat Industrial makes Iveco trucks and CNH Global NV tractors.
VW's MAN and Scania stakes would cost $13.4 billion at the current market price, with VW's 29.9 percent MAN holding valued at 3.9 billion euros ($5.1 billion) and its 45.7 percent of Scania's capital worth 56.9 billion kronor ($8.3 billion).
VW has been eyeing Alfa Romeo, with Fiat repeatedly saying the brand isn't for sale. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn told reporters at the Detroit auto show that Alfa Romeo is a “nice and interesting” company.
“It's a kind of game between the two - after VW insisting it's interested in Alfa, Fiat is using the opportunity to get back at them,” said Thierry Huon, an Exane BNP Paribas analyst in Paris. “On paper you could justify such a group with Scania on top, MAN in the middle and Iveco on the bottom, but if you look at MAN and Scania alone, you can see how long it can take.”
VW is seeking to combine the truckmakers to cut costs. MAN and Scania have been exploring ways to cooperate and possibly merge with a goal of cutting development and purchasing costs.
“It would be a remarkable move for Fiat Industrial,” said Edoardo Liuni, an analyst at IlNuovoMercato.it in Rome. “Fiat Industrial won't have difficulties in finding the funding necessary for a possible acquisition as Marchionne has created such a good reputation for Fiat.”
VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech said in September the German company was “monitoring” Fiat's plans for Alfa Romeo.
“They've been clear about their ambition in the car industry,” Fiat Chairman John Elkann said. “If they want to concentrate, focusing on that, then we're interested in helping them” by buying MAN and Scania, he said.
“With all the hints they're dropping, they're confusing the market,” said Jose Asumendi, an analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in London. “While it would be great for Fiat to get, I'd be extremely surprised if Volkswagen sells a truck business that's a tremendous earnings generator and which probably has one of the best exposures to China.”
Marchionne said he hasn't talked with VW about Fiat's interest in MAN and Scania.
“We do talk to them from time-to-time,” he said. “I'm sure it will come over a coffee at some point in time in the next 12 months.”