A mainland Chinese company, Great Wall Motor of China, has recently expressed interest in acquiring either the Jeep brand + manufacturing operations or all of Fiat/Chrysler.
The press has since been filled with commentary whose thrust is that Washington will oppose either sale proposition.
Several things strike me as odd about this:
–brands like Volvo and Jaguar have looked a lot more interesting recently since coming into Asian hands, so that shouldn’t be an issue (although this is likely the crux of the matter)
—Jeep is now part of an Italian company …which bought it from a German firm that was slowly sinking under the weight of a senescent Chrysler …which had been foundering despite a government bailout in the 1970s and a huge injection of badly needed engineering talent under Daimler. So a firmer economic footing for the whole Chrysler enterprise is unlikely to come without outside-the-box thinking. Also, it’s hard to make a logical argument that foreign ownership for any part of Chrysler is a problem
–if the Great Wall Motor interest is real, it suggests the company has access to foreign exchange at a time when Beijing is cracking down on reckless foreign m&a by domestic corporations. That likely means that Great Wall has enough influence in China to be able to expand the Jeep brand’s reach quickly
–I haven’t heard a lot of posturing from Washington. Either I’m really out of touch on this one, or the anti-Great Wall sentiment is mostly in the minds of reporters.