Chinese Automakers Looking at Buying Fiat Chrysler, Report Says

Sergio Marchionne might finally find someone to take FCA off his hands. 

Uli Deck/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

In recent years, Sergio Marchionne has sometimes seemed rather like a father desperate to marry off his daughter in his attempts to find a buyer for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But after years of beseeching suitors to little effect, the automotive world's most notable sweater enthusiast may have finally found someone to take in FCA. According to Automotive News, multiple Chinese automakers have begun moving towards buying Fiat Chrysler. 

The report, which cites unnamed sources with knowledge of the events, claims that one unnamed Chinese carmaker went so far as to put in a bid for FCA that was slightly more than the company's market value. (To put that in perspective, FCA has a market cap of $19.4 billion as of this writing.) That bid, however, was reportedly rejected for being lower than the FCA desired. 

But other major Chinese car companies are also taking steps to explore purchasing the Italian-American company, according to AN. Delegations of Chinese automotive executives have reportedly been spotted at FCA headquarters in recent weeks. It was unclear which automakers from China were in discussions with FCA, other than Great Wall Motor Co. 

A Chinese purchase of FCA would likely include Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat, Ram, and Jeep, according to one of AN's sources. Alfa Romeo and Maserati would remain separate, along with the already-spun-off-but-still-connected Ferrari. That would allow the powerful Agnelli family—whose scion Giovanni Agnelli helped to found the company that would become Fiat in the 19th Century and who currently maintain a controlling interest in FCA—to maintain their hold over the storied Italian sports car brands. 

For Chinese automakers, snapping up FCA would give them a much-desired way into the massive North American auto market, which has so far largely remained untapped by car companies from the massive Asian nation. It's a goal that the Chinese government is also pushing for, according to Chinese automotive industry expert Michael Dunne; he told AN that Beijing is looking to encourage homegrown companies to scoop up international properties and "make their mark," as Dunne put it.