Fiat Chrysler CEO discusses merger plans, says first-quarter of this year was hard

CEO Sergio Marchionne

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne conveyed back on his search for a merger on Friday, stating the automaker was not in a position to seek offers in the meantime and would focus instead on following its company plan.

Marchionne had consistently called for mergers in the automobile industry and a tie-up has long been viewed as the ultimate goal of his relaunch of Fiat Chrysler, which is due to leave in 2019 after 15 years at the helm.

He looked for a merger with General Motors 2 years ago but nothing happened. Only last month he stated Volkswagen might agree to talk about a tie-up with FCA in response to competing PSA Group’s acquisition of Opel.

Marchionne informed the yearly general meeting in Amsterdam he still observed the need for auto companies to merge to better handle the large investments required, however said Fiat Chrysler was not speaking to Volkswagen.

“On the Volkswagen concern, on the question if there are continuous discussions, the response is no,” he stated. He added, without elaborating, that Fiat Chrysler was not at a phase where it might go over any alliances.

“The main focus is the execution of the plan,” he stated.

FCA has vowed to swing to a 5 billion euro net cash position by 2018, from net debt of 4.6 billion euros at the end of last year – an accomplishment that Marchionne has stated would put it in a much better spot to make a deal in the future.

The first quarter of 2017 was challenging for FCA however this will not affect the automaker’s targets for this year and next, Sergio Marchionne said on Friday.

“The very first quarter was hard, we had said it would have been the weakest of the year, but this does not alter the targets for this year nor for 2018,” Marchionne told press reporters on the sidelines of an investor meeting of truck maker CNH.

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