Stellantis Chairman Tamps Down Speculation of Merger

‘No Plan’ For Any Mergers, Elkann Says After Italian Media Rumors
Stellantis Chairman John Elkann
Stellantis NV Chairman John Elkann. (Giuliano Berti/Bloomberg News)

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Stellantis NV is focused on executing its business plans in key markets including Italy and isn’t considering a plan to merge with other manufacturers, Chairman John Elkann said.

Elkann, 47, the leader of the Agnelli billionaire family that is the single largest investor in Stellantis, responded on Feb. 5 to days of speculation in Italian media about potential M&A options, including a tie-up with Renault SA.

“There is no plan under consideration regarding merger operations with other manufacturers,” Elkann said in a statement. The company is committed to a plan “which brings together the Italian government with all the stakeholders in the automotive industry to achieve important common goals to address the challenges of the electric transition.”

The discussion in Italian media was fueled by Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares’ remarks in an hour-long interview with Bloomberg News last week. He said that the ascendancy of Chinese manufacturers, the European Union’s efforts to phase out combustion engines, and the United Auto Workers union’s costly new contracts were among the factors fueling greater potential for M&A.

Tavares, 65, also said antitrust authorities will have to take these circumstances into account when deciding whether to greenlight another major deal like the 2021 merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler that formed Stellantis.

Tavares has said Stellantis is gearing up for an era of auto industry consolidation, predicting the rush to offer more affordable electric vehicles will end in a “bloodbath.” He has paid particularly close attention to Renault, a company he perceives as vulnerable, but also didn’t rule out possible interest in other carmakers.

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In the interview, Tavares also said Italy should do more to protect auto jobs instead of attacking the owner of brands including Fiat and Alfa Romeo, pushing back against Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s recent criticism.

Reacting to Tavares’ remarks, Italy’s Industry Minister Adolfo Urso told reporters Feb. 1: “If Tavares believes Italy should do like France, which increased its active participation in Stellantis, let them ask us for it.”