Stellantis boss denies Renault merger rumours (update)

On Monday, Stellantis Chairman John Elkann dismissed speculation that the Italian-US-French group plans to merge with Renault. “‘No plans are being examined for Stellantis mergers with other manufacturers,’ Elkann said when asked about the rumors. On Tuesday, he also tried to appease the Italian government about Stellantis’ commitment to Italy.

Renault, for its part, said it “does not comment on rumors and indiscretions.” “Honestly, we don’t have any information on this subject,” its communications division told press agency ANSA.

The rumor was fueled by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. On Sunday, it wrote that the French state was maneuvering in the car industry. “As Paris is already a shareholder at Renault and Stellantis, it sees advantages in going further.”

The newspaper suggested that the idea is to merge both groups, a marriage in which the French state could supervise things and increase its influence in the future of the European car industry.

At the end of January, the French state increased its voting rights in Stellantis to 9.6% while maintaining its 6.1% stake as a shareholder. It also has a 15% stake in Renault. Until now, the Italian state has had no stake in any car manufacturer.

Dare Forward plan

“Our company is focused on executing the Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan and timely implementing the projects announced to strengthen its business in every market where it is present, including Italy,” Elkann explained further.

Elkann said that the group formed in 2021 from the merger of Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the French PSA Group is “fully committed” to the talks underway with the business and Made in Italy ministry and all players in the automobile-sector supply chain on “achieving important common objectives of the transition to electric together”.

Last week, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares told Bloomberg in an interview that the rise of the Chinese car industry and the European Union’s attempts to phase out cars with international combustion engines prompted manufacturers to seek takeovers and fusions. He added that he was ready for an eventual megafusion…

Is the Italian state taking a stake in Stellantis?

Meanwhile, Stellantis told unions Monday that there will be a whole month of lay-offs in March for the 3,000 workers at its historic Mirafiori plant in Turin. The Maserati and electric 500lines  will not entirely but will work only one shift, the carmaker said.

Last Thursday, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares told Bloomberg in the same interview that its plants at Mirafiori and Pomigliano d’Arco near Naples would face severe cuts in employment unless the carmaker got significantly higher subsidies for making electric cars in Italy, prompting talk of the State taking a stake in the carmaker.

He also said Italy should do more to protect its jobs in the automotive sector instead of attacking Stellantis for producing less. “This is a scapegoat in an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the fact that if you don’t give subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles, you put plants in Italy at risk,” he said.

On Monday, Premier Giorgia Meloni described the comments as “bizarre”. “What I read seemed quite bizarre to me; we are always available and open to whatever creates jobs,” Meloni told reporters in Tokyo, where she is on an official visit in the context of the handover G7 duty presidency the G7 from Japan to Italy.

“If you think it is better to produce where labor costs less, you are free to do so,” she added. “The CEO of a large company should know that incentives cannot target one company alone and that we have invested in eco-incentives,” said Meloni.

Italian jewels

Last month, Meloni slammed Stellantis for failing to act in the country’s interests about the production of its Fiat models and other historic Italian brands. “If you want to sell cars on the international market by advertising them as Italian jewels, then those cars must be produced in Italy,” insisted Meloni.

Since taking office in autumn 2022, the Meloni government has prioritized reversing Italy’s recent decline in car production, particularly to bring manufacturing back to the country.

To appease everything a little bit, John Elkann saw officials, including President Sergio Mattarella, in Rome Tuesday, confirming the Italo-Franco-US carmaker’s commitment to Italy. As well as the head of State, the Agnelli heir saw Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti, US Ambassador to Italy Jack Markell, and Bank of Italy Governor Fabio Panetta.

Sources said the meetings provided an opportunity to assess the group’s Italian activities. Elkann reportedly reiterated his commitment to implementing the industrial projects underway and to the actions of common interest that were the subject of recent talks at the transport ministry.

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