Chinese Automaker Sets Sights on Fiat Chrysler

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Great Wall Motor Co. has confirmed it is is interested in bidding for all or part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU), a company official said Monday, as the Chinese automaker sets its sights on the owner of the Jeep and Ram truck brands.

Speculation has risen since Automotive News reported last week that a “well-known Chinese automaker” made an offer earlier in August for Fiat Chrysler.

In premarket trading in New York, shares of Fiat Chrysler climbed 3.5% to $13.01. In trading in Milan, the shares were up 3.5% to 11.07 euros, or $13.02.

Fiat Chrysler has total sales of 1,060,740 light trucks through July, a decline of 3.9% year to date, based on data from motorintelligence.com. The downshift in sales reflects the industrywide decline in sales in the United States after several years of record vehicle sales. Fiat Chrysler holds 10.8% of the light truck market through July, slightly down from 10.9% a year ago. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are the leaders in this segment.

In terms of total vehicle sales, Fiat Chrysler has sold 1,206,969 vehicles through July, down 7.5%, and its market share has slid to 11.2% from 11.7%.

FCA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is seeking a partner or buyer for the automaker to help it deal with rising costs, comply with emissions regulations and develop technology for electric and self-driving cars.

In a statement Monday, Fiat Chrysler said it had not been approached by Great Wall, which is China’s largest sport utility vehicle (SUV) and pick-up manufacturer.

A deal for Fiat Chrysler, which has a market value of almost $20 billion, would be the biggest deal for an overseas company by a Chinese company, eclipsing Geely Holding Group’’s 2010 billion acquisition of Swedish carmaker Volvo.