Fiat Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Paolo Cantarella has resigned, but all the indications are that he had little option in the face of Fiat Auto’s worsening financial position.

His departure followed a senior management meeting in Turin with Paolo Fresco, group chairman, and Giovanni Agnelli, patriarch of Fiat’s founding family, and leading shareholders.

Fiat said the departure of Mr Cantarella, 57, would streamline the central management of the company. His duties will be assumed by the company’s chairman, Paolo Fresco, who is 68.

Mr Cantarella said in a statement that his resignation would ‘enable the chairman and the stockholders to take decisions and actions that they will deem more useful for the company’.

He also said that he thought it ‘necessary to make a clean break given these complex moments for the Group and Fiat Auto in particular’.

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Despite restructuring efforts undertaken at Fiat Auto, the division has been under pressure from weakening demand – especially in Italy – and intense competition. Analysts say that losses could approach 1 billion euros this year and that Cantarella’s departure may convince investors and banks that further restructuring and radical measures will be taken if necessary, to secure financial turnaround.

Closer integration of Fiat Auto’s operations with those of GM is now thought likely. Other moves that are speculated include an Alfa Romeo IPO and a new CFO for the Group.