Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was created in 2014 from the merger of Italian industrial giant Fiat with Chrysler Group of the US. It was, as it turned out, not the end of a long and often bumpy journey for both companies, but only a temporary pitstop. At the end of 2019, yet another merger was agreed, this time with European competitor PSA Groupe, that will create the world's 4th largest auto manufacturer. That process will continue the transformation of what was originally Italy's dominant industrial giant Fiat into a truly international company, headquartered no longer in Milan but most likely in Amsterdam or London. Yet the Fiat name is still closely linked to Italy's modern identity. Roughly half of all cars on the road in Italy still carry the Fiat badge, and the group once held a broad swathe of investments in other industrial sectors as well as the media. But the old order has changed. Fiat found its main car business under severe pressure in the early 2000s, largely as a result of its dependence on Europe in general and the Italy in particular. Several attempts to bolster the business failed to prevent substantial losses, and the company came perilously close to bankruptcy. Fiat finally regained its stability by the end of 2007 and began looking actively at expansion into other areas, notably back to the US, a market it had quit altogether more than a decade earlier. That led to a merger with the equally troubled Chrysler. The majority of Fiat's non-automotive interests were demerged at the beginning of 2011 into a separate company, while luxury auto brand Ferrari was spun off in 2016. Yet the performance of Fiat's heritage brands - Fiat itself and its super-charged sideline Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati - has remained highly mercurial. Fiat sales have been falling steadily - to under 1.5m vehicles globally in 2018 - and are almost entirely reliant on different versions of the core 500 model. Despite several relaunches, Alfa Romeo managed only 122k cars worldwide in 2018, while Lancia has been phased out entirely outside Italy. Shipments of high end Maserati fell by a quarter in 2019 to 27k. Thus the need for a further alliance with what is now the regional powerhouse of PSA of France. Mike Manley is currently CEO of Fiat Chrysler. Revenues for 2019 were €108.2bn with net profit of €2.7bn. Total shipments were 4.42m vehicles. However North America - the old Chrysler Group business - contributes more than half of vehicles, two thirds of revenues, and more than 90% of profits.
Capsule checked 14th February 2020
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Historical profile information for Fiat Group
Adbrands Daily Update 17th Mar 2020: Auto manufacturers across Europe have begun to shut down production to reduce the spread of coronavirus. PSA Groupe and Fiat Chrysler announced the suspension of all manufacturing in the region, while Renault shut all 12 of its French factories and Volkswagen shuttered plants in the worst hit countries of Italy and Spain. Ford and Nissan also closed some operations in Europe, mainly in Spain.
Adbrands Daily Update 31st Oct 2019: Spurned earlier this year by Renault (or at least by Renault's French government shareholders), Fiat Chrysler has turned instead to Renault's arch-rival rival PSA. Just a day after news they were in talks first broke in the Wall Street Journal, terms for a full merger of equals were agreed by both companies' boards. PSA's Carlos Tavares will become CEO of the combined entity, with FCA's John Elkann as chairman. The all-share deal is being structured as a merger of equals, with each group's current shareholders ending up with 50% of the resulting business. Exor, the investment company for Fiat's Agnelli family, of which Elkann is chairman, will be the biggest shareholder in the group with 14.5%. The Peugeot family and its Chinese partners Dong Feng Motors will each have 6%. Assuming all goes according to plan, the merger would create a group with sales of around 8.7m vehicles annually, displacing General Motors as the global #4 manufacturer.
Adbrands Daily Update 28th Oct 2018: "Alive". Turn up the sound! This spectacular film for Maserati and Pennzoil automobile lubricants really deserves to be seen on a movie screen not your smartphone. PR agency Burson Cohn & Wolfe is behind the project, but the superb design and animation - the entire film was created in CG - is by creative team Shynola at Nexus Studios. They acknowledge the cinematic influence of Alien, Star Wars and Solaris; but you might also notice more than a few conceptual similarities to "Birth", an ad BBH did a few years ago for the Audi R8. Still, this is a stunning piece of work, thrilling in its power and intensity.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Jun 2019: That didn't take long: Fiat Chrysler's bold plan for a merger with Renault collapsed after only a few days, apparently as a result of interference by the French government, which is Renault's most influential shareholder, as well as resistance from the carmaker's Japanese partner Nissan. The state and Nissan each hold a 15% equity position in Renault. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire instructed Renault to slow negotiations with FCA in order to avoid disrupting the existing alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi, which is deemed the greater priority, despite evidence of continuing tensions. With Renault's hands apparently tied, Fiat Chrysler's chairman John Elkann abruptly withdrew his merger offer. A person close to Fiat Chrysler told the Wall Street Journal, "The French state has been intrusive in the extreme. They have sought the final word on every issue and this has created a situation of uncertainty that finally became intolerable."
Adbrands Daily Update 27th May 2019: Negotiations between Fiat Chrysler and Renault over some form of strategic alliance escalated quickly over the weekend. Fiat Chrysler has now proposed a full merger of the two businesses as equal partners in what would become the world's third largest car producer behind Volkswagen and Toyota. FCA proposes that Renault's Jean-Dominique Senard would be CEO of the combined entity with its own controlling shareholder John Elkann as chairman, and ownership of the business would be split 50/50 between the two group's existing shareholders. FCA is also offering to pay a special dividend to its own existing shareholders to offset the disparity between the two companies' respective valuations: FCA is significantly more valuable at present because of its US operations. Renault's board has agreed to study the proposal and come back with an answer in due course. The main complication is what to do about Nissan, in which the French company currently holds a large stake. However that relationship is under considerable strain as a result of the arrest by Japanese authorities of Carlos Ghosn, the architect of their alliance, as well as by the sharp downturn in the Japanese group's performance. Could Renault decide to pull the plug on its Nissan alliance in favour of Fiat Chrysler? Or will a deal be struck to accommodate all three?
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