Fiat-Chrysler, Peugeot merger likely to be completed in January

The merger between Italian-American carmaker Fiat-Chrysler and its French rival Peugeot is on pace to be completed by the end of January, Fiat has said on Thursday, the same day Fiat-Chrysler announced its CEO Mike Manley would stay on to head the Americas division when the merger is completed.

Manley, who had been Fiat-Chrysler’s executive vice-president for China and Asia before becoming the company’s CEO in 2018, was an architect of Fiat-Chrysler’s focus on China’s car market starting two years ago. Market analysts have told Xinhua that the new company, which will be called Stellantis, will work to improve its market position in China in order to become a more global brand.

China’s Dongfeng Motor Company will be a significant minority shareholder in Stallantis, with 4.5 percent of the combined company’s shares, via its stake in Peugeot, which dates to 2014.

Fiat-Chrysler announced Manley’s new post via a letter sent to employees by company Chairman John Elkann on Friday. A company official confirmed the contents of the letter when contacted by Xinhua.

“Mike [Manley] took control of our company under the most difficult circumstances, following the cruel and untimely death of Sergio Marchionne in July 2018, and he led us out of those dark days,” said Elkann, the great-great-grandson of Giovanni Agnelli, who founded Fiat in 1899.

Peugeot, which has not sold new cars in North America since 1990, is expected to return to the market after the merger, under Manley’s leadership.

The news of Manley’s new post is the first formal confirmation that he will stay on after the merger is complete.

When it was first announced last year, the merger was expected to be completed by the end of 2020, though complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic pushed the completion date into 2021.

In September, the companies said they expected the 38-billion-U.S.-dollar merger to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2021. Now it appears it will be completed in January, ahead of the revised schedule. Once it is launched, Stellantis will be the world’s fourth-leading carmaker based on both projected revenue and vehicles sold.