Fiat’s Elkann Says Talks for Marelli Partner Include Samsung

  • Elkann says he discussed several topics with Samsung’s Lee
  • Marelli in talks with various potential partners, Elkann says

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chairman John Elkann confirmed the carmaker is holding talks with several potential partners, including Samsung Electronics, to strengthen its car-parts unit Magneti Marelli.

“We discussed this and other topics,” Elkann said in Turin, when asked if he had talks on Marelli with Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae Yong on Aug. 29 when the two met in Turin at Exor SpA’s board meeting. "Samsung has important interests in the insurance business and, as we own the re-insurer PartnerRe, there are several possible commercial ties."

John Elkann

Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Elkann, who is also chairman of Exor, the Agnelli family holding company, spoke in Turin after shareholders approved relocating it to the Netherlands following in the footsteps of Fiat Chrysler’s Ferrari NV and CNH Industrial assets. Lee is a board member of Exor.

Samsung is in advanced talks to buy some or all of Marelli, people familiar with the matter said last month. The South Korean manufacturer is particularly interested in Marelli’s lighting, in-car entertainment and telematics business, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Aug. 27 that Samsung is a "potential strategic partner."

Elkann said Fiat is "holding talks to strengthen Magneti Marelli in the future" as "components are important in the evolution of cars and there is increasing need for electronics." He said Marelli is in talks with several potential partners.

Marchionne, who dropped his push for a merger with a fellow automaker last year, has increasingly turned his attention to technology providers. In March, he offered to assemble cars for Apple Inc. and in May announced a cooperation project with Alphabet Inc.’s Google on driverless vehicles. Amid discussions with Uber Technologies Inc. and Amazon Inc., Samsung is the latest big-name technology company on Fiat’s radar.

Selling part of Magneti Marelli would help Marchionne achieve what analysts see as the most challenging part of his five-year strategy, which includes more than doubling net income and building a cash reserve of at least 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion), in addition to getting rid of debt.

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