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Why Ford Motor Company Won’t Merge With Fiat Chrysler

Last weekend, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU), Sergio Marchionne, approached Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor (NYSE: F), with a consolidation proposal.

In this clip from the MarketFoolery podcast, Chris Hill, Taylor Muckerman, and Jason Moser explain why Ford promptly declined, and why joining up with a company like Fiat is likely at the bottom of its to-do list.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on April 25, 2016. 

Chris Hill: Sergio Marchionne is the head of Fiat Chrysler. He's been saying for some time that the auto industry would benefit from some consolidation, and he appears to have picked his next dance partner: Ford Motor. CEO Mark Fields was asked about this over the weekend and very politely said no, thank you. If nothing else, you have to admire the chutzpah of a guy who says, "I have a $10 billion company. You've got a $54 billion company. We should merge." 

Taylor Muckerman: "Let's talk."

Jason Moser: Yeah, I admire his chutzpah. And this could always change. Things change very quickly. I cannot imagine any scenario where Mark Fields actually wants this to happen. The only reason I could see this actually happening, there are two reasons. Either, A, Mark Fields quit his job as the CEO and the person who fills his role wants to do this; or, B, Mark Fields truly believes that what Alan Mulally helped execute in turning this business around really didn't work too well. And I think the numbers would argue that it has worked out pretty well. 

The whole reason why Ford has been able to make it is they had the wherewithal to shed all of those tangential brands that didn't really matter to the core operations. They tightened up their operations, they cut the fat. This, to me, would just be adding more fat. I mean, there's no reason in the world why they would need to bring Fiat in there. It would ultimately, I think, cause problems down the road. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Muckerman: I think it could be a distraction in a time where these big automotive companies could use a little less distraction. They have other things to concentrate on. And Mark Fields seems to be concentrating on those important things, talking about $4.5 billion invested in autonomous and electric vehicles. Forty percent of their vehicles could be offered electrically by the end of this decade. He has some bigger fish to fry, I think, than trying to roll in a few other car brands from a company that hasn't done quite as well as his over the last few years.

Moser: And I think it's a great point he makes -- bringing up the electric vehicles, those things of the future. Mark Fields had to wait for this job. There was a point where he thought he was going to get that job, and the powers that be said, "Wait, not quite yet, we don't think you're ready. Work under Mulally here for a while longer, learn a little bit more." And he was good to be patient and take a back seat. He waited his time; now he has this role. This is not a CEO job that was just handed to him. You could argue that he earned it. And I think he's excited about taking this company forward. And a merger with Fiat would really just be taking it backward.

Muckerman: Yeah. You have to imagine Marchionne's not going to take a back seat to most people.

Moser: No. Probably bigger egos involved than ... yeah, that would cause a lot of trouble.