Fiat Chrysler’s contemplation of selling off one of its divisions set off of flurry of excitement among investors who pushed the company’s stock price up to dizzying heights on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The company’s stock jumped almost 10% in New York before closing up 8.9%. FCA’s stock on the Milan Exchange ended the day up 8.3%.
The company is mulling a sale of its Magneti Marelli unit to Samsung Electronics for as much as $3 billion. The division includes lighting, in-car entertainment and telematics products and would help Samsung wedge its way into the automotive market.
The consumer electronics behemoth is looking to diversify its businesses and wants to compete with Apple and Android in the seemingly lucrative automotive infotainment business. The move to spin off these businesses is pretty common as GM and Ford did so many years ago.
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Marchionne told investors this Spring that Fiat Chrysler continues “to rely on Marelli now to provide a lot of technical support in terms of the development of our portfolio,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
He said that Fiat Chrysler at some point the automaker will no longer need to rely on “an internal supplier” and “we’ll be in a position to take a hard look at this to find out whether it makes sense to continue Marelli in the portfolio.”
However, Marchionne noted, “But we’re far removed from that today.”
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The proceeds from the sale would likely go toward paying down the company’s debt. Cleaning up FCA’s balance sheet is critical to CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to merge the company with another automaker.
Marchionne, who has long supported the idea of consolidation within the auto industry, has engaged several automakers and Apple in discussions about a pairing. His most public effort included a letter to General Motors.
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The move was given a cool “thanks, but no thanks” from GM CEO Mary Barra and the company’s board of directors.