Iveco does not need Daimler

The cat is officially out of the bag: Iveco has no desire to be acquired by Daimler, and it doesn’t need its financial muscle. That’s the official word from Pierre Fleck, chief executive officer of Irisbus Iveco


Fleck was addressing the media in Sicily, which was where we had gathered for the world launch of the new Magelys Pro, a luxury coach designed to enhance Irisbus Iveco’s presence in the European tourism sector. The company – Europe’s second largest bus and coach manufacturer – has no plans to launch the coach here, but I will tell you a little bit more about it anyway in next month’s FOCUS.

But back to the really interesting stuff – the Daimler deal. As Frank Beeton reported in Global Focus last year, a report appeared in the Italian media stating that Daimler AG was interested in buying Fiat Industrial for €9 billion. (Readers will recall that Fiat split up its car and industrial businesses, with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Abarth, Ferrari, Maserati, Magnetti Marelli, Teksid and Comau being grouped together in a dedicated dinky toy company, while Iveco, Irisbus, Case New Holland and the industrial and marine business of Fiat Power Train Technologies were housed in the newly created Fiat Industrial.)

Much political tap dancing ensued following this report, with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche denying any talks in this regard but not ruling out the possibility of an acquisition either.

Well, rather unsurprisingly, the concept of Daimler buying Iveco was mooted at the press conference and Fleck (who is amazingly candid, by the way), squashed the rumours once and for all. “Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat, has stated publicly that we’re not interested in a deal with Daimler. This company does not need Daimler. In fact, we are more of a hunter than a guy being hunted,” he commented.

Fleck said that the deal just did not make sense. “What does make sense is separating the car business from the commercial business, which is what we have done. Volvo did the same thing very successfully (that Swedish story is beautiful) and now Daimler is under pressure to do the same. It makes sense because it is very costly to develop a car; you consume a lot more cash on the car side of the business than the truck side,” he noted.

He stressed that Fiat Industrial was more than capable of going it alone. “We are the second biggest capital goods company in the world, and we are both successful and profitable. We achieved a turnover of €21 billion in 2010, 18,8% up on 2009. We have 5 000 employees and sold 6 519 vehicles last year (over 3,5 t GVM market). Furthermore, our products are extremely reliable, and they have been since day one,” Fleck commented.

So Iveco isn’t going out with a begging bowl. And it seems as though Daimler isn’t interested in pursuing the concept either. Within the same week of the media conference in Sicily, Daimler CFO Bodo Uebber said in an interview with Bloomberg, that the company had “walked away from talks with Fiat last year, because the company takes a disciplined approach to acquisitions”.

So maybe all the rumours were just a case of much ado about nothing? We will watch and wait and see…

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