Paris/Milan — The French government was battling to defend its business strategy on Thursday after being blamed for scuppering a $35bn-plus merger between carmakers Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Renault only 10 days after the plan was announced.

The share prices of Italian-American FCA and France’s Renault fell sharply in early trade after FCA pulled out of talks, saying “political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully”.

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