The Italian newspaper La Repubblica said on Sunday that Fiat’s controlling shareholders plan to strengthen their role in its management, with Gianni Agnelli’s younger brother Umberto likely to become chairman.


The newspaper said that Umberto Agnelli is expected to be named chairman of the group in July, succeeding Paolo Fresco.


Agnelli would likely take over only after a spinoff and recapitalisation of Fiat Auto, the newspaper said, while Fiat Chief Executive Alessandro Barberis would keep his post alongside Agnelli.


The Agnelli family is thought to be siding with creditors in an effort to keep control of the group and to be opposing financier Roberto Colaninno’s rescue plan.


Last week Umberto Agnelli reportedly said the family would dig into its deep pockets to support a capital increase if needed. It has been speculated that further funding could come from alliance partner General Motors, possibly in return for Fiat cancelling a ‘put’ option that allows Fiat to sell its 80% stake in Fiat Auto to GM from 2004.