GM CEO Barra says Fiat Chrysler chief sent email on possible merger

Tue Jun 9, 2015 11:00am EDT
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By Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said on Tuesday that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI: Quote) CEO Sergio Marchionne sent an email proposing a potential merger, and that GM's board gave "strong support" to her strategy of going it alone.

Marchionne has been conducting a campaign to persuade rivals and investors that the auto industry needs another round of consolidation.

Marchionne's proposal was "very much vetted with management and our board, and after we reviewed that we are committed to our plan…and we have strong support," Barra said during a briefing for media ahead of the automaker's annual meeting.

In comments late last month, Marchionne and FCA Chairman John Elkann said they had reached out to rivals, particularly GM.

Marchionne is reaching out to hedge funds and activist investors to help persuade General Motors Co to agree to a merger, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Marchionne has said automakers should collaborate to achieve greater economies of scale as they develop new vehicles and technologies required to comply with tougher emissions mandates in the major global vehicle markets.

Elkann, responding to a question about whether FCA would consider a hostile bid for GM, said the company would "act with determination if there are the prerequisites to do something that makes sense", without giving any details.

Barra, in her remarks, didn't respond directly to the overtures from FCA, but made it clear she's not interested in a combination.   Continued...

General Motors Co., CEO Mary Barra  addresses the media before the start of the annual GM Shareholders meeting at  GM world headquarters in Detroit, Michigan June 9, 2015.   REUTERS/Rebecca Cook