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Black 6050 19th June 2015 16:32

FCA/GM Merger Talk
 
GM asking advisors for help rekindles FCA merger talk

June 18, 2015

MILAN (Reuters) - General Motors seeking advice from investment banks shows it is taking an attempt by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to force a merger with its larger U.S. rival seriously, analysts and traders said.

GM openly rebuffed a merger proposal from the Italian-American carmaker earlier this year and CEO Mary Barra said last week she had no interest in a tie up.

But sources told Reuters that GM had asked Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for advice as fiery FCA boss Sergio Marchionne is said to be lobbying GM investors in an effort to drag the GM board to the negotiating table.
FCA is being advised by UBS the sources added.

Banca Akros analyst Gabriele Gambarova said the development could demonstrate that the option of striking a deal with GM "is not completely dead and that GM is at least contemplating such an option at least to give more convincing answers to its shareholders, possibly asking why a merger with FCA should not bring the benefits envisaged by FCA and denied by GM."
"We believe that the news can be positive," he said.

Milan-listed shares in FCA were down 1.5 percent by 7.57 a.m. EDT, but traders said the stock was mainly reacting to market jitters over the situation in Greece.

Marchionne has for months argued that the auto industry needed to consolidate to share prohibitive capital costs to develop vehicles, including greener and more high-tech cars.

While a hostile move for GM is seen as a long shot given FCA's much smaller size and high debt pile, Marchionne is trying to lobby investors to support his case that GM and FCA would be better off merged, the sources said.

Kevin Lilley, a fund manager at Old Mutual Asset Management and an FCA shareholder said he would like to see a deal.

"Bringing together the two businesses would help on ... the investment thatís essential to do business in the future on safety and emissions control," he said.

Analysts agree that an FCA-GM marriage could bring significant cost savings through platform and production network sharing, integration of the carmakers' European businesses and overlap in Latin America.
But a deal would also likely face anti-trust issues in the United States and risk job losses.

"Putting together FCA and GM looks like an operational and management nightmare - but frankly if anyone can smash through the issues and make it function, it would be Marchionne," Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said in a recent note, adding a deal was unlikely.


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