FCA has already rejected an acquisition offer from a Chinese brand, but more bids are coming.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' long search for an industrial and financial partner might soon come to an end. Encouraged by the national government, several Chinese companies are interested in buying the brand to fast-track their way to achieving global status.
Sources familiar with the negotiations told Automotive News that a major Chinese brand recently offered to buy FCA at "a small premium over its market value." The same source explained the offer was rejected because it was too low, but the story doesn't end there.
Different sources told the industry trade journal that officials from other large Chinese automakers are reviewing a potential purchase of FCA. Some traveled to the company's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, last week. FCA also sent a delegation to China in order to talk with Great Wall Motor executives.
China's biggest car manufacturers are under intense government pressure to go global by buying foreign automakers. It's a policy called China Outbound that encourages companies to buy turnkey operations overseas instead of expanding into new markets with their existing business.
Geely set an example by acquiring Volvo and the London Taxi Company a few years ago, and by buying a controlling stake in Malaysia's Proton a couple of months ago. ChemChina's purchase of Italian tire maker Pirelli is also hailed as a major victory for the Chinese economy.
The discussions are top secret, and official details are non-existent. We don't even know the identity of the companies trying to outbid each other for FCA.
Automotive News reports the sale would include the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram brands. Maserati and Alfa Romeo would get spun off, much like Ferrari was nearly two years ago.
Whether they would remain independent or get scooped up by a rival automaker is up in the air. While Maserati is hardly the most attractive premium brand in the industry, Volkswagen has famously tried to buy Alfa Romeo several times over the past decade.
Note: Jeep Yuntu concept pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.