After he'd been spurned by General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne turned his attention to Volkswagen as a possible merger partner in 2017.
Marchionne, who died in July this year, considered VW the next-best bet for consolidation, though publicly, he was coy about his intentions. In March 2017, he told reporters he'd be open to listening to offers from then-VW CEO Matthias Müller.
"If he wants to come, he knows where I live," Marchionne said. "I didn't chase him, and I have no intention of chasing him. But if I'm right on consolidation and the fact you need to build scale, we're the natural place to go for him. I will not call Matthias. I have no interest."
But behind the scenes, the FCA boss was working hard to get Müller to the table, sources said.
During an Oct. 31 interview with Automotive News, Volkswagen's current CEO, Herbert Diess, who succeeded Müller this spring, was asked what the reaction was in Wolfsburg to FCA's "very aggressive" advances.
Diess grinned slightly: "We were not very aggressive in listening."