Fiat Says It Reviews Strategic Proposals as Spinoffs Examined

(Bloomberg) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV did little to quell speculation that the manufacturer is considering ways to streamline its portfolio to focus on mass-market cars, saying it regularly reviews strategic proposals.

“From time to time, FCA may receive inquiries on strategic transactions and will evaluate such inquires consistent with its duties to stakeholders,” the carmaker said Friday in a statement prompted by Italy’s market regulator, which is seeking an explanation after a recent share surge. 

Fiat Chrysler is considering options including a plan to spin off the upscale Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands as well as components operations, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the discussions. Italian newspapers, including La Repubblica, followed up on Thursday with stories saying the spinoff of parts unit Magneti Marelli could be announced by end of this year. Fiat said it “has no further information” in response to these reports and referred to a statement on Monday related to an approach by Great Wall Motor Co.

“As a matter of policy, FCA does not comment on market rumors and therefore does not intend to comment further on any inquiries,” the company said.

Share Surge

Fiat Chrysler shares, which have hit record highs in recent days, were up 0.2 percent to 12.51 euros as of 10:19 a.m. in Milan. The stock has surged 25 percent in the past two weeks.

Great Wall, China’s biggest maker of sport utility vehicles, expressed interest in Fiat Chrysler, especially the Jeep brand. Fiat said there has been no approach on Jeep or “or any other matter relating to its business.” Great Wall said there are “big uncertainties” whether it will continue to pursue its interest in Fiat Chrysler.

The swirl of deal speculation continued on Thursday, with Fiat and Volkswagen AG in very early discussions about possible joint production of light utility vehicles, people familiar with the matter said.

Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, 65, is preparing his final five-year business plan before he leaves the carmaker in 2019. He acknowledged that deeper changes might be coming when he said last month that the automaker will evaluate whether to spin off some businesses. The company is pushing to eliminate 4.2 billion euros ($5 billion) in debt by the end of next year.