Italy would be open to taking a stake in the proposed merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as long as the deal triggers economic benefits for the country, a government undersecretary said.
"Our government is open to investment, provided that this brings a positive impact in terms of economic growth and jobs for our citizens," the rightist League's Michele Geraci, who works at the economic development ministry, told Bloomberg when asked about Italy investing in the possible new entity.
The merger would see the French state's stake halved to 7.5 percent, which "in principle is not against our view," Geraci said.
France will back the proposed merger, as long as it offers the state a range of guarantees on jobs, a board seat and local headquarters, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on RMC radio earlier Wednesday, as the French automaker's board prepares for a second day of deliberations on the deal.
Renault's board is meeting today to review Fiat's proposal after failing to come to a decision Tuesday. Its directors are examining in detail a preliminary merger agreement hammered out over the past days, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.
Obtaining a seat on the new entity's board for the French state, the automaker's most powerful shareholder, is a "tough point" in the talks, Le Maire said.
Geraci welcomed the possible merger, saying he's in touch with the players involved "but the decision is with the shareholders of the company.''
FCA's Chrysler's proposal last week for a 50-50 combination under a Dutch holding company is designed to help the companies add scale, share costs and boost resources for tackling an expensive shift to electrification and autonomous driving.
Longtime Renault alliance partner Nissan has put up some resistance, while the French company's most powerful shareholder -- the government -- has outlined a list of demands on jobs and a board seat
The deal would create the world's third-largest automaker with the chance of becoming a global leader if Nissan later joins FCA and Renault.
The combined entity "would really increase the production scale of the company by a large factor; we are looking at roughly 15 million production units a year," and would help Italy catch up with Japan and other countries in electric cars, Geraci said.
Geraci said he'll meet Japanese government members at the Group of 20 summit in Tokyo Thursday. "Japan is a very important partner for our country,'' Geraci said. "It is important that the Fiat-Renault deal would look to Japan as a key partner.''
Also being considered: a possible payout to Renault investors, potentially by reducing a planned 2.5 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) special dividend slated for FCA owners, people familiar with the matter said. It's possible that a decision to move forward will be reached Wednesday, according to the people.
The French government has insisted than any Renault combination with FCA remain within the framework of the existing Franco-Japanese alliance.