April 2, 2019 / 8:14 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Exor's Elkann stresses long-term commitment to Fiat Chrysler

(Recasts lead, adds background)

MILAN, April 2 (Reuters) - Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family, remains committed to Fiat Chrysler (FCA), chairman John Elkann said, in comments that may dampen speculation the Italian carmaker could be the target of a takeover.

"Our permanence in the capital of FCA has given its successive leadership teams the latitude to plan for the long term rather than having to react to daily pressures," John Elkann, who is also Fiat Chrysler chairman, said in a letter to Exor shareholders published late on Monday.

"This approach and mindset remain as relevant to us today as ever and our commitment to FCA and to participating in its bold and profitable future is also unchanged."

Exor, Fiat's biggest shareholder with a stake of 29 percent, has been diversifying its asset base in recent years after buying U.S. reinsurer PartnerRe in 2015.

Media reports last month said France's Renault wanted to restart merger talks with Japan's Nissan Motor . within 12 months, after which it could be eyeing a bid for Fiat.

The president of Peugeot family holding company FFP said he would support a new deal and suggested Fiat Chrysler was among the options.

Elkann said the next 20 years in the car industry were set to witness a great level of change and suggested the Agnelli family, the founders of Fiat, would not passively stand by.

"We are determined that we and Fiat Chrysler will play our part actively and ambitiously in this new and exciting era," he said in the letter.

After the death of former CEO Sergio Marchionne last year, speculation about the future of Fiat Chrysler has intensified.

Marchionne, who had created the group by merging a troubled Fiat with Chrysler of the U.S., had advocated industry mergers to share the cost of building electric and self-driving cars.

Carmakers around the world are looking to tie-ups to cope with rising competition, the rise of electrification and the threat of a trade war between the United States and China. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes Editing by Silvia Aloisi/Keith Weir)

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