Sergio Marchionne's Magnificent Obsession With GM: How Does It End?

September 9, 2015

Many jokes have been made about Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne and his curious -- some would say quixotic -- quest to merge FCA with General Motors.

At first, it seemed like an idea that came out of a happy-hour brainstorming session, a piece of spaghetti that didn't quite stick to the wall. But Marchionne pursued it anyway, and as Auto News reports, even though he's been turned down by GM, the CEO isn't taking "no" for an answer.

Awkward.

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None of us here are doctors, so we're not going to make guesses about Marchionne's current mental state. However, it's clear that he believes FCA is heading into rough waters, and from his point of view, GM is the safest port for weathering the storm.

Is he right? Maybe.

Will he pull it off? That's a much bigger maybe.

As we see it, there are at least six possible scenarios for Marchionne and FCA going forward:

1. Marchionne's own fears never materialize and everything works out just fine. Hooray, problem solved.

2. Marchionne is correct, FCA runs into trouble, can't solve it, and declares bankruptcy. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, go directly to 2009. 

3. Marchionne is correct, FCA runs into trouble, and the company begins making evasive maneuvers like other Detroit automakers did during the Great Recession. Underperforming brands are (finally) shelved, global production is streamlined, new technology is prioritized, and after a long rough patch, things come out more-or-less okay.

4. Marchionne is at last accepted into GM's lukewarm embrace. From there, things could go a thousand different ways. That's a choose-your-own-adventure book in itself.

5. Marchionne uses investors to force a merger with GM, resulting in hurt feelings, a tsunami of lawsuits, waves of terrible publicity, and even more uncertainty than with option #4.

6. Marchionne finds another partner like PSA Peugeot Citroen. Its problem aren't fully solved, but if both companies go down, they'll go down together.

Based on some very amateur tarot card readings, we're torn between #3 and #6. How about you? How do you think this scenario ends?

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