Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot SA sealed their long-awaited merger on Saturday to create Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest auto group with deep enough pockets to fund the shift to electric driving and take on bigger rivals Toyota and Volkswagen.
It took over a year for the Italian-American and French automakers to finalise the $52 billion deal, during which the global economy was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. They first announced plans to merge in October 2019, to create a group with annual sales of around 8.1 million vehicles.
“The merger between Peugeot SA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV that will lead the path to the creation of Stellantis NV became effective today,” the two automakers said in a statement.
Shares in Stellantis, which will be headed by current PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares, will start trading in Milan and Paris on Monday, and in New York on Tuesday.
Now analysts and investors are turning their focus to how Tavares plans to address the huge challenges facing the group - from excess production capacity to a woeful performance in China.
Tavares will hold his first press conference as Stellantis CEO on Tuesday, after ringing NYSE’s bell with Chairman John Elkann.
FCA and PSA have said Stellantis can cut annual costs by over 5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) without plant closures, and investors will be keen for more details on how it will do this.
Marco Santino, a partner at consultants Oliver Wyman, said he expected Tavares to disclose the outlines of his action plan soon, but without divulging too many details at first.
“He has proven to be the kind of person who prefers action to words, so I don’t think he will make loud statements or try to over-sell targets,” he said.
Like all global automakers, Stellantis needs to invest billions in the years ahead to transform its vehicle range for the electric era. But other pressing tasks loom, including reviving the group’s lagging fortunes in China, rationalising its huge global empire and addressing massive overcapacity.
“It will be a step by step process, also to allow the market to better appreciate every single move. I don’t think we will have all the details before one year,” Santino said.
FCA CEO Mike Manley - who will head Stellantis’ key North American operations - has said 40% of the carmaker’s expected synergies would come from convergence of platforms and powertrains and from optimising R&D investments, 35% from savings on purchases, and another 7% from savings on sales operations and general expenses.
The European Commission had been worried the merger could affect competition in Europe’s lucrative van market, with PSA and fiat Chrysler together accounting for 34 percent of market share. To assuage those concerns, the commission said PSA would continue an agreement with Toyota to manufacture vans to be sold under the Japanese brand in Europe.
PSA and Fiat-Chrysler estimate that their marriage will allow up to five billion euros worth of savings through synergies both in the production costs and research.
Such savings will please shareholders but are a worry to the two workforces.
On the trade union side, most saw the merger as inevitable, but remain on their guard.
“Let’s see in a year,” said Olivier Lefebvre, a delegate of the French FO union.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said recently that it will invest $250 million to grow its presence in India with the launch of four new sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) under its Jeep brand over the next two years.
The investment will be made to locally manufacture a mid-size, three-row SUV, assemble the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles in the country and launch a new version of its Jeep Compass SUV, FCA said in a statement.
FCA currently has less than a 1% share of India’s passenger vehicle market. Adding new vehicles to its portfolio is expected to help the automaker increase local sourcing of components, achieve better economies of scale, reduce costs and boost sales.
“Our new investment of $250 million will give us a competitive edge in multiple segments,” Partha Datta, managing director for FCA India said in the statement, adding that it is determined to increase locally-made components in its vehicles.
The investment comes at a time when automakers globally have been battered by the pandemic, and automakers in India have been further stung with the domestic market slowing down even ahead of this in 2019.
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