Great Wall Motors pours cold water on possible FCA deal
Great Wall Motor Co. cooled prospects for a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, saying there are no talks and it may not pursue a takeover the Italian-American car manufacturer’s Jeep division.
Commenting just a day after expressing interest, Great Wall Motor said there are “big uncertainties” whether it will continue to study Fiat Chrysler, the Baoding-based automaker said in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange. The Chinese company’s efforts have “not generated concrete progress as of now,” and it has not established contacts with Fiat’s board.
Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne stoked deal speculation last month when he said the automaker will evaluate whether to spin off some businesses. The Jeep marque is the group’s strongest and has been a key focus of expansion, with plans to boost sales to 2 million vehicles by 2018. Marchionne is pushing Fiat Chrysler to eliminate debt by the end of next year to position it better for future consolidation in the auto industry.
Fiat shares reversed earlier gains to lose as much as 3 percent, trading down percent 1.4 percent at 11.28 euros as of 1:54 p.m. in Milan, valuing the company 17.6 billion euros ($20.7 billion). Great Wall, whose stock was suspended Tuesday, said trading in its shares will resume Wednesday.
Great Wall may find it tough to obtain Chinese regulatory approval due to recent restrictions on capital outflow, Deutsche Bank AG analysts Vincent Ha and Fei Sun wrote in a report dated Tuesday. An acquisition will also require U.S. approval, which could be complicated under the current administration, they said.
While an acquisition of the offroad Jeep brand may make sense given both the Chinese automaker’s focus on SUVs, the deal may be too big for Great Wall if the deal hinges on buying some or all of Fiat Chrysler, the Deutsche Bank analysts said.
“We cannot ignore the potential policy hurdles involved in a potential cross-border M&A,” Ha and Sun said in the note. “We think the chance of a significant M&A for GWM is still remote.”
Great Wall’s shares were suspended from trading in Hong Kong and Shanghai on Tuesday pending a clarification of press reports. The automaker said on Monday that it was interested in buying Jeep. Fiat said there’s been no approach from Great Wall on Jeep “or any other matter relating to its business.”
China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the top planning agency, and the Ministry of Commerce, which oversees cross-border acquisitions, didn’t immediately respond to faxed requests for comment on Great Wall’s interest in pursuing Jeep.