China’s Great Wall confirms interest in Fiat Chrysler

China’s Great Wall Motor Company has said it is interested in bidding for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns brands including Jeep and the truck maker Ram.

“With respect to this case, we currently have an intention to acquire. We are interested in (FCA),” the company official in Great Wall’s press relations department, who declined to give his name, told Reuters over phone.

 Reuters reported earlier, citing sources, that Great Wall had asked for a meeting with FCA with the aim of making an offer for all or part of the Italian-American auto group.

In a separate report also published on Monday, Automotive News said that Great Wall had contacted FCA to express an interest specifically in its Jeep brand.

A company official confirmed it was pursuing all or part of FCA after the US publication Automotive News reported that a “well-known Chinese automaker” had made an offer this month, triggering a jump in FCA’s Milan-listed shares.

“With respect to this case, we currently have an intention to acquire,” a statement from Great Wall said on Monday. “We are interested in [FCA].”

I think Great Wall Motor is eyeing a global strategy, not just the United States.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive, is seeking a partner or buyer for the Italian-American group to help it manage rising costs, comply with emissions regulations and develop technology for electric and self-driving cars. An acquisition by Great Wall Motor would be audacious, and one of China’s highest profile manufacturing deals to date.

Earlier on Monday, two sources said Great Wall Motor had asked for a meeting with FCA, with the aim of making an offer for all or part of the world’s seventh-largest carmaker. Citing an email from Great Wall’s president, Wang Fengying, Automotive News reported that Great Wall had contacted FCA to express interest specifically in the Jeep brand.

The industry publication said the Chinese company had not made a formal offer or met FCA’s board. Automotive News quoted a spokesman as saying: “Our strategic goal is to become the world’s largest SUV [sport utility vehicle] maker.” “Acquiring Jeep, a global SUV brand, would enable us to achieve our goal sooner and better [than on our own].”

FCA shares rose 3.9% to €11.12 in early Milan trading, outperforming a flat market. Great Wall Motor shares were up almost 3% in Shanghai.

Fiat Chrysler plants in Mexico may close if Trump enacts import tax, CEO says
Read more
FCA was not immediately available to comment on interest in the group.

Yale Zhang, head of the Shanghai consultancy Automotive Foresight, commented: “Jeep is the most logical choice since (Great Wall) wants to be the largest SUV maker in the world.” Ram could be an option, he added, but “the Jeep brand is recognised globally. I think Great Wall Motor is eyeing a global strategy, not just the United States.”

A move for FCA or one of its main brands, if successful, would allow Great Wall Motor to accelerate a planned push into the U.S. market, the two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

They said Great Wall Motor had been making plans for some time to enter the U.S. market, mainly by upgrading some of its key products and improving branding.

The company this year launched its Wei brand of potentially US-market-ready vehicles. Wei is the surname of the Great Wall founder and chairman Wei Jianjun.

You might be interested in