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Great Wall Motor mulling bid for Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand

Chinese automaker sees acquisition as path to global prominence

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is among the brand's latest SUV offerings.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China's Great Wall Motor is looking into buying Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' truck operations and Jeep sport utility vehicle brand, hoping that the valuable assets will jump-start overseas growth and enhance its luxury auto offerings.

Great Wall has told the Italian-American automaker of its interest in the operations through such intermediaries as financial institutions, a person familiar with the matter said. How much it plans to offer has not been revealed. Great Wall could also bid on additional operations or Fiat Chrysler as a whole if doing so means getting hold of the two prize businesses.

Fiat Chrysler said Monday that it "has not been approached by Great Wall Motor in connection with the Jeep brand or any other matter relating to its business."

Great Wall, a privately owned automaker founded in 1984, is the top pickup truck maker in China and has recently found popularity with its SUV offerings. A lack of tie-ups with big foreign automakers has strengthened the company's image as a purely Chinese brand, and most of the 1.07 million vehicles it sold in 2016 went to the domestic market.

Picking up key Fiat Chrysler operations would greatly expand the company's footprint overseas, where Great Wall has traditionally struggled. Fiat Chrysler could also help Great Wall build its luxury vehicle business following the launch of the Chinese company's Wey high-end SUV brand.

Fiat Chrysler sold roughly 4.6 million vehicles last year. It is mulling the sale of Jeep and other assets, including the high-end Chrysler brand, a source close to the matter said. Such other Chinese automakers as partner Guangzhou Automobile Group, Dongfeng Motor Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group have also reportedly shown an interest.

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