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Chinese company offers to buy Fiat Chrysler: Report

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-15 01:49

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, bailed out by US taxpayers during the financial crisis, recently rejected an acquisition bid by an unidentified Chinese automaker, according to Automotive News.

The Chinese automaker made at least one offer this month to buy Fiat Chrysler at a small premium over its market value, Automotive News reported on Monday. The offer was rejected for not being enough, the industry publication said.

Automotive News also saidthat that other Chinese auto companies could be considering a bid for the maker of the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge brands.

A Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman on Monday declined to comment on the report, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The US government began a bailout of the American auto industry in 2008 under President George W. Bush with $25 billion in aid to General Motors Co, Chrysler and their lending units. Then President Barack Obama added about $55 billion to the total.

Fiat, based in Italy, picked up 58.5 percent of Chrysler in 2009 amid the bailout and in 2014 assumed full ownership of Chrysler.

In January John Murphy, an auto analyst with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, raised the possibility of Fiat Chrysler being purchased by a Chinese automaker in the next three to five years -maybe with help from the Chinese government.

Murphy said Fiat Chrysler could resolve its debt issues by partnering with a company including a Chinese automaker looking to enter the US market, the Detroit News reported. He said a Chinese auto company would also have to put a lot of capital into Fiat Chrysler.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been open to industry consolidation to cut expenses and attract investment in the capital-intensive global auto business.

Chinese automakers have reportedly been interested in entering the competitive US market. In January Guangzhou Automobile Group or GAC, said it would open a research and development (R&D) center in Silicon Valley in California.

"We would like to be in the US market and the R&D center is a good start," said Liang Weibiao, GAC vice-president.

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