GENEVA — Many observers speculated that without Sergio Marchionne keeping it intact, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be quickly sold off.
But almost eight months after Marchionne’s unexpected death, CEO Mike Manley is running a standalone company that is investing in the U.S. and Europe, expanding the Jeep lineup and poised to add fresh talent to its executive team.
With the spinoff of the Magneti Marelli parts unit nearing completion and profits projected to grow in the second half of 2019, Manley said FCA will have a balance sheet with “strength we haven’t had before.” But Manley, in a meeting with reporters last week at the auto show here, refused to rule out any deal that could make the Italian-American company better — which is noteworthy when a French rival reportedly sees FCA as a possible partner.
“I want to find areas where cooperation — whether it is partnerships, whether it’s joint ventures or whether it is deeper levels of equity cooperation that makes sense for us and whoever that is — [will] give better vehicles to our customers and a better return to our shareholders,” Manley said. “I’m very open to it.”
In ways that might have pleased his predecessor, combinations and alliances are the topic du jour in the industry these days. Volkswagen says it’s looking for partners to share its electric-car platform, and Bloomberg News reported that PSA Group, planning its return to the U.S., may want to team up with FCA, GM or Jaguar Land Rover.