Well that escalated quickly.
The dryness and professionalism of the auto industry means that when a smidgen of drama starts to take place, it sticks out like a sore thumb waiting to be nailed down. This is why FCA's current status as "seeking a buyer" as well as the turbulent back and forth that CEO Sergio Marchionne has had with other executives in the industry has garnered a spotlight. Initially he mentioned that a Volkswagen and FCA partnership would be beneficial to both companies, especially after the PSA Group's takeover of Opel and Vauxhall.
Volkswagen CEO Mathis Muller responded in a manner that made it sound as if he was not interested, but he later clarified to say he meant that a deal of that magnitude would not be off the table, although Marchionne hadn't reached out to propose it. Now, according to Automotive News, it seems as if Marchionne is backtracking his earlier comments claiming he had "zero interest" in the merger. "I only said that if you were the No. 1 automaker in Europe and somebody combines with another automaker to become the second and gets very close to your position (reference to the PSA/Opel deal), your very first reaction is to distance the second again," said Marchionne to reporters.
He added, "We are the only natural combination partner for somebody who wants to do that. If you were playing a chess board game, that's what you would do." It appears that the Fiat Chrysler CEO wants to downplay a story that's likely been blown a bit out of proportion but still seems to be trying to hint to Muller that such a deal would be optimal for both companies. However, Marchionne will not be making the first move. "I will not call Matthias. I have no interest," he said. Like two elementary schoolers with a crush on the other, it appears that the CEOs have not been communicating and are hearing about one another's intentions through the press.
To that, Muller said, "It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you. I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne." Hopefully this back and forth comes to a quick end with some open dialogue between the two execs.