Great Wall in China Confirms Fiat Chrysler Interest

Great Wall Motor Co., based in China is interested in making a bid for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said a company official Monday, which confirmed the reports it was pursuing part of or all of the owner of Ram trucks and Jeep brands.

Speculation has been present over interest by the Chinese in FCA since a report last week by Automotive News that a well-known, but unidentified Chinese automaker submitted an offer earlier in August, which triggered the shares listed in Milan for FCA to jump.

A member of the public relations department of Great Wall Motors said that with respect to FCA, the company currently has an intention of acquiring the automaker. The company is interested, but he declined to give any other details.

CEO at FCA Sergio Marchionne has sought a partner or a buyer for the seventh largest automaker in the world to help manage the rising costs, comply with the regulations for emissions, while developing technology for both electric as well as self-driving vehicles.

In a prepared statement, Fiat Chrysler announced that it was approached by the Chinese automaker and was in the middle of implementing its ongoing business plan of five years.

A move by Great Wall Motor, the largest pickup and SUV maker in China, for FCA would be quite audacious.

At a point when the attitude of Beijing to international deals has cooled off, if the Chinese automaker purchased FCA, which has a current $20 billion market value it would be the largest overseas automotive deal for China by far. The biggest to date was Geely’s acquisition in 2010 of Volvo autos.

Great Wall is smaller than FCA. The Chinese automaker currently has a $16 billion market value.

Earlier Monday, two people who are familiar with this matter said that Great Wall asked to have a meeting with officials from FCA, with the goal of submitting an offer for part or the entire auto group.

In addition, on Monday it was reported by Automotive News, citing an email received from the president of Great Wall Wang Fengying that the company had contacted FCA expressing interested in its Jeep brand.

The industry publication said a spokesperson from Great Wall had confirmed its interest, but did caution that the no formal offer was made or that no meeting was held with the board of FCA.

In Milan, FCA shares were up 3.9% on the news outperforming a market that was flat. Shares of Great Wall closed 3% higher in Shanghai on Monday.