Fiat Chrysler CEO says long way from lobbying GM investors

Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:09pm EDT
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By Agnieszka Flak and Stefano Rebaudo

ARESE, Italy (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI: Quote) (FCAU.N: Quote) is a long way from making any offer to the shareholders of U.S. rival General Motors (GM.N: Quote) over a possible tie-up, FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday.

Marchionne has already approached his counterpart at GM, Mary Barra, with a merger proposal but was rebuffed. However, sources have told Reuters that Marchionne was lobbying GM investors to drag the GM board to the negotiating table.

"We are very far removed from any of those scenarios today," Marchionne told journalists on the sidelines of the much-awaited launch of the carmaker's first new Alfa Romeo model.

"None of my staff has spoken to them, I haven't spoken to them, nobody is under instruction to speak to them," he said.

Marchionne has repeatedly called for consolidation in the auto industry to share the prohibitive costs of building greener and more intelligent cars. Asked if he would consider an option of going hostile on GM, Marchionne said only that those players who kept wasting capital were acting in a hostile manner.

Earlier on Wednesday, FCA launched the Giulia midsize sedan, hoping to take on "boring" and "zero emotion" German rivals such as BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote) and Audi (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) in the fast-growing and high-margin market for premium cars.

"This car can beat the Germans any day," Marchionne said.

Developed by a team led by engineers drafted from stable-mate Ferrari, the new Alfa Romeo will sit on a new rear-wheel platform, dubbed Giorgio, have around 500 horsepower and boast Ferrari-derived six-cylinder engines. It is meant to be a direct rival to BMW's 3 series and could go on sale in Europe at the end of this year and in the United States in early 2016.   Continued...

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne talks during the launch of a new Alfa Romeo car in Milan, Italy in this June 24, 2015 handout photo.  REUTERS/Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse/Handout via Reuters