COMMENT: De Tomaso to thrash out Sicily detail now
A great fanfare from Rome yesterday saw some fairly typical hyperbole from the politicians as the Italian Economics Ministry blew its own trumpet at inking a deal for Fiat's Sicilian Termini Imerese plant.
"A new era has started for Termini Imerese," enthused Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani. "Now it is important everybody - government, workers and unions put all [their] best to help the agreement to start as soon as possible."
Some extremely large amounts of cash were mentioned in passing - an initial EUR450m (US$610m) from the politicians followed by another massive tranche that would be attracted from the private sector brining total investment to a convenient - and enormous - EUR1bn.
Quite where such a vast sum is coming from - the Economics Ministry insisted to just-auto there was no European funding involved - has been glossed over - the EUR350m from Sicily alone dwarfs the national contribution of EUR100m.
And although there were some warm noises emanating from Rome yesterday, this is not quite the done deal it appears to be.
Sources in Italy with knowledge of De Tomaso told just-auto today (17 February) the luxury carmaker had to "sit with the government of Sicily - to define every step."
There are of course, logistics and financial considerations to bear in mind, what slice of that EUR450m will find its way to De Tomaso, while how will Fiat's site by physically divvied up? Are the current buildings suitable?
The source acknowledged there would have to a measure of "reindustrilisation" of the plant given the radically different nature of Fiat compared to De Tomaso.
And the source also indicated to just-auto the luxury manufacturer has made some extremely bold predictions about job creation - retaining 1,500 employees on the island for example, would at a stroke, more than double its staff.
At a time of economic austerity - and when Fiat is never out of the headlines in Italy - it's perhaps unsurprising the Italian government has chosen to make a song and dance about Termini Imerese.
But there are myriad issues still to be resolved, not the least of which is any timetable for automakers - there appear to be only two carbuilders of the seven bidders - to move in.
The Italian government has said the limit will be a maximum of three years, but the unions will be champing at the bit for manufacturers to take the keys on next New Year's Day.