No Jeep talks yet between Fiat Chrysler, China's Great Wall Motor
Great Wall Motor (OTC:GWLLY), the Chinese automaker that expressed interest in buying Jeep, has yet to engage in discussions with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) as of Tuesday.
In a filing with the Shanghai stock exchange, Great Wall said it “took interest in FCA but there has been no concrete progress so far.” Great Wall added that it hasn’t had any negotiations or signed any agreements with Fiat Chrysler.
The Chinese SUV maker confirmed on Monday that it wants to acquire Jeep, and Great Wall President Wang Fengying told Automotive News that executives would seek to begin negotiations on a deal. Fiat Chrysler issued a statement saying it had not been approached by Great Wall. It remains unclear if Great Wall intends to make an offer for all or part of the Italian-American automaker, even if Jeep is its primary target.
Jeep is seen as Fiat Chrysler’s most valuable brand. The Wrangler maker is worth $33.5 billion on its own, an estimated $1.5 billion more than Fiat Chrysler as a whole, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. Great Wall said a Jeep takeover would help the automaker achieve its goal of becoming the world’s largest seller of SUVs.
However, the filing suggests that a Chinese company other than Great Wall could be actively interested in striking a deal with Fiat Chrysler, based on a report last week from Automotive News. The industry publication said at least one automaker in China made a firm bid for the company, and others had expressed some level of interest.
Despite potential backlash in political circles, analysts expect that a Chinese takeover of Fiat Chrysler or an individual brand such as Jeep would face few regulatory obstacles in the U.S. The biggest challenge for Great Wall might be financing a deal, given that it’s a smaller company.
Fiat Chrysler shares are up 16% since reports of potential Chinese bidders first surfaced last week.