April 3, 2019 / 1:02 PM / 8 months ago

PSA chief says not focussed on new partnership with Fiat Chrysler

CHENNAI (Reuters) - French carmaker PSA Group is not focussed on negotiating a new partnership with Fiat Chrysler, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Tavares, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA Group, attends a news conference to announce the company's 2018 results at their headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, near Paris, France, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Asked if an alliance with Fiat was something PSA is actively exploring or in talks about, Tavares said at a press event in the southern Indian city of Chennai, “No, we are not targeting a specific company. We are working with all of our partners.”

Media reported earlier this week that PSA and Fiat Chrysler were exploring a partnership to share investments to build cars in Europe.

The president of the Peugeot family holding company FFP said last month he would support a new deal and had suggested Fiat Chrysler was among the options.

“We have a lot of partnerships and of course it is very normal that we work with our partners to improve what we are doing continuously. But we are not targeting any specific car company for a very simple reason we don’t need it.”

“If there is an opportunity, we will consider but we don’t have to target any specific company and specifically not the one you mentioned,” Tavares said, as the company unveiled its Citroen C5 Aircross SUV for the Indian market.

FCA is often cited as a possible merger candidate for PSA given its exposure to the U.S. market and its popular Jeep brand.

GLOBAL PUSH

PSA, known for its legacy Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands is eyeing a global play as it pursues a 50 percent group sales increase outside its home-turf Europe by 2021.

To expand internationally, PSA is relying on an Opel re-launch in Russia, a Peugeot comeback in the U.S. market and a second entry in India.

At Wednesday’s event, PSA said the Citroen C5 Aircross SUV would go on sale in India before the end of 2020, adding it was aiming to capture 2 percent of market share in the country of 1.3 billion by 2023-24.

The company is also planning to make India an export hub, starting with automobile parts.

The SUV is the first product from the Citroen brand aimed at the Indian market and the company said it would launch one new car in the market every year from 2021.

PSA is re-entering the India market. In the late 1990s, its local joint venture to sell Peugeot cars fell apart.

Almost all of PSA’s revenue comes from Europe, which accounts for 80 percent of its global vehicle sales after its purchase of General Motors’ Opel-Vauxhall division in 2017.

In China, which contributes about 4 percent of Paris-based PSA's sales, the carmaker has been struggling to reverse a sustained sales collapse where group deliveries fell 32 percent in 2018. (reut.rs/2OGQVv4)

FILE PHOTO: A Fiat sign is seen on a new car model at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“We are not giving up in China. There is no way we will ever give up in China... It will take time but we will not give up,” said Tavares.

India is the world’s fastest-growing major car market but in the last few months weak consumer sentiment has led to lower sales, with rising insurance costs also hitting sales.

The country’s top three automakers, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Hyundai Motor India Ltd and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, together account for about 74 percent of domestic sales in India.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Chennai and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh, Bernard Orr

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