Automotive Newswire from BRG Townsend, Inc. reports that all of Europe was surprised yesterday when European Union antitrust boss Carlo Monti said the Italian government could take a stake in Fiat, so long as it is done under the same terms as a private investor.

“If the member state acts in the same way as a normal market investor, yes – there’s state intervention, but no state aid,” Monti said.

So far, the Italian government has denied that it is interested in taking a stake in Fiat.

As BRG notes, General Motors has been clear that it doesn’t want the Italian government as a partner in Fiat and if that happens, GM will likely walk away from any deal with Fiat.

The Italian government is also reported to have suggested that Fiat’s main creditor banks should buy a stake in the company, but the four main banks responded in a joint statement yesterday emphasising that they favoured the Fiat management plan, which includes plant closures and the layoff of 8,000 people.