Fiat confirmed on Friday that the former head of Ford Europe was in the running to take over the top job at loss-making Fiat Auto, a Reuters report said.
“(Current Fiat Auto chief executive) Giancarlo Boschetti is close to retirement so we have to look for a substitute and Martin Leach is one of the possibilities,” Fiat chairman Umberto Agnelli told the news agency on the sidelines of a conference in northern Italy.
Reuters said neither Agnelli nor CEO Giuseppe Morchio would be drawn on reports that Ford has refused to release Leach from a clause in his contract that prevents him from moving to a rival car maker immediately.
“Our rule is to do things and talk about them afterwards,” Morchio told Reuters, adding: “If we find any practicable opportunities we will consider them,” and reiterating that a key plank of Fiat’s turnaround plan is based on strengthening management.
Reuters noted that Fiat took a first step in that direction in February, hiring Morchio, a former Pirelli executive, as the first CEO in years not to have climbed the Fiat ladder while, on Thursday, Jose Maria Alapont, a top manager at components maker Delphi was named the new head of truck unit Iveco.