Friday, May 29

FIAT-Chrylser: The Italian Job?

picture from Chryslerpedia
Take a look at some of the most recent headlines from my journal of choice when I get a bit homesick - The Detroit News:

23 Apr 2009 Fiat CEO says Chrysler deal is the top priority, but doesn't rule …
Fiat SpA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne signaled Thursday that the Italian automaker might explore a deal with General Motors Corp.

25 Apr Fiat leader convinced he can help Chrysler
The chief executive of Fiat told the White House auto task force Thursday that the Italian automaker could help Chrysler recover and repay the billions it ...

…That is emerging as a sticking point in talks between GM and Fiat... Marchionne ruled out spending cash to combine Fiat with Chrysler and GM Europe. ...

Summers: Fiat-Chrysler talks still up in the air
Saturday, May 2, 2009 Fiat head to discuss Opel concept
Berlin -- The head of Italian carmaker Fiat SpA, which is in the process of acquiring U.S. automaker Chrysler, is continuing talks with German officials about a possible takeover of General Motors Corp.'s Opel unit, according to media reports Saturday.

Fiat explores merger with GM Europe
Italy's Fiat SpA said Sunday that its board was willing to explore a possible merger between the Italian company's auto activities, including its interest ...

Fiat seeks GM Europe deal

Italy's Fiat SpA, fresh from signing an alliance agreement with Chrysler LLC, said Sunday that it was exploring the possibility of merging its auto business ...

29 May 2009 Fiat to stay away from Friday Opel talks
Milan -- Officials from automaker Fiat will not attend Friday's talks with the German government about its offer for Opel, blaming Berlin's ...

Now, anyone who has ever read the Detroit papers as long as I have will attest that generally, they’re usually pretty reliable sources of information. So, what gives? I’d be willing to venture that the jolly card here is FIAT being put into play.

Any historian buffs or business execs out there will certainly recognize a few salient features in this deal:

1. Modern day capitalism with its' correspondent takeovers between companies valued at greater than most countries is nothing short of warfare.

2. Although in Italy, Italians love to repeat they are all ‘individuals’ and not team players (except maybe in soccer), they love, when it comes to business, to form unwieldy teams which then get bogged down in petty fiefdoms and conflicts of interest, just like in the days of Theodoric. And here, I cite Alitalia. It wasn’t enough for Air France or Italy’s Air One to take it over (or together). No, they had to form a huge consortium of banks, old Alitalia, Lufthansa, and heck, Air One and Air France just for kicks.

3. In Ancient Rome, a snazzy Triumvirate was formed between three good men, namely Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great). To complicate matters, according to Wikipedia, the First Triumvirate had no official status whatsoever – its overwhelming power in the Roman Republic was strictly unofficial influence -- and was in fact kept secret for some time as part of the political machinations of the Triumvirs themselves.
After the deaths of the above (see: all's fair in love & war), a Second Triumvirate was duly formed by Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus), Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Mark Antony. And, we all know how successfully that ended.

4. Italians in WWII fought valiantly, winning key battles not so much through their prowess, but more simply by flummoxing their adversaries (first the British then the Germans after switching sides when they saw their chips were down) through your basic disorganization variety of battle strategy [I cite the Battle of El Alamein, in specific, and the battles for Africa in general]. Sometimes, they even perplexed their own side:

Quote by Axis Commander Erwin Rommel (source wikipedia):

Rommel was later to blame the failure to break through to the Nile on how the sources of supply to his army had dried up:
… then the power of resistance of many Italian formations collapsed. The duties of comradeship, for me particularly as their Commander-in-Chief, compel me to state unequivocally that the defeats which the Italian formations suffered at Alamein in early July were not the fault of the Italian soldier. The Italian was willing, unselfish and a good, and, considering the conditions under which he served, had always given better than average. There is no doubt that the achievement of every Italian unit, especially of the motorised forces, far surpassed anything that the Italian Army had done for a hundred years. Many Italian generals and officers won our admiration both as men and as soldiers. The cause of the Italian defeat had its roots in the whole Italian military state and system, in their poor armament and in the general lack of interest in the war by many Italians, both officers and statesmen. This Italian failure frequently prevented the realisation of my plans.

Rommel complained bitterly about the failure of important Italian convoys to get through to him desperately needed tanks and supplies-always blaming the Italian Supreme Command, never suspecting British code breaking.

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but this FIAT – Chrysler no, FIAT – Opel, no Fiat – GM – Chrysler Triumvirate smacks a lot like history repeating itself.


Dave514 said...

You may well be right. Fiat is in tough shape itself from what I understand.

At one point it was considering buying GM Europe which is comprised of Opel, Vauxhall and Saab.

To complicate matters GM has plants in England, Germany, Sweden, Belgian, France, Italy, Austria, Poland, Spain and Hungary.

At any rate, all of this will be sorted out by Monday, I should think.

As of an hour ago Fiat is not participating in final talks in Germany. There is an overall fear that Germany may try to make an exclusive deal with GM to guarantee the solvency of Opel and to hell with the rest.

We shall see.


Anonymous said...

Basically we face one car, white, probably a hybrid, out of price-reach for most folks unless they go into major debt - soon other cars will be non-repairable due to lack of parts - hmmm...maybe then we can see a resurgence of public transportation even in rural areas and we can save the environment -- or is that the goal??
What happened to good business sense?? We sure got off the trail somewhere, didn't we?