Big investor dismisses GM-Fiat Chrysler merger talk – USA TODAY
Harry Wilson, the former Obama auto task force adviser who pushed General Motors earlier this year to repurchase $5 billion of its own stock, says a deal between GM and Fiat Chrysler is not a good idea.
Asked this morning on CNBC whether a merger or acquisition between the two automakers that went through taxpayer-funded bankruptcies should happen, Wilson said, “I don’t think so.”
“I have no disrespect for Sergio Marchionne (CEO of FCA). He’s a really smart guy,” Wilson said. “It’s true that there’s a lot of misspent capital in the auto industry, but that is only part of the equation. The complexities of an auto merger are massive. Historically, they have not had very good results.”
Marchionne presented a detailed analysis on April 30 that he called “Confessions of a Capital Junkie.” The gist of his message is that FCA won’t be able to keep up with investment requirements and technological changes without teaming with or selling itself to a larger company.
The market reaction to a proposed merger has been tepid at best. Both companies stocks have fallen in recent weeks, despite robust sales in the U.S.
GM CEO Mary Barra has said publicly at least three times that GM’s board of directors studied an e-mail from Marchionne, but decided not to proceed with merger discussions.
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that John Elkann, chairman of FCA and the scion of Fiat’s founding Agnelli family, remains interested in some type of arrangement with GM but understands it may take time.
“GM hasn’t been put to rest,” the Journal quotes Elkann as saying during an interview in Milan. “GM is not the only option, but no doubt from a feasibility and quantum point of view it is by far the best.”
Barra’s reasoning in rejecting a combination with FCA is that GM already has ample global reach to compete in the largest markets around the world. In contrast to FCA, which has preserved all of Chrysler’s pre-bankruptcy brands and has relaunched Fiat and Alfa Romeo in the U.S., GM has four brands in its home market, half of what it had before its bankruptcy.