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February 14, 2011

ITALY: Fiat leaves open potential merged company location

Fiat has confirmed it will continue with its EUR20bn (US$27bn) invesment in upgrading Italian plants, although the manufacturer has left open the question of where any future merged company with Chrysler could be based.

Fiat has confirmed it will continue with its EUR20bn (US$27bn) investment in upgrading Italian plants, although the manufacturer has left open the question of where any future merged company with Chrysler could be based.

The suggestion Fiat could move its HQ has been the subject of intense debate in Italy and led to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne being summoned to a weekend meeting with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a host of senior economics and labour ministers.

“No decision will be taken until 2014 – the Italian media unfortunately have completely twisted this story,” a Fiat spokesman in Turin told just-auto.

“We were talking about maybe in some future moment in time, should Fiat and Chrysler merge, where would be the headquarters of this merged entity. That was misinterpreted – they got confused – it is complete nonsense.”

The spokesman there could be several bases such as Italy, the US, Brazil and China.

Despite Fiat’s optimistic words, the Italian government does not appear to retain quite as much confidence in the automaker’s position – and differed as to any possible re-evaluation date although it welcomed confirmation of the EUR20bn investment.

“We really don’t know what is Marchionne’s idea – we don’t know because he just says until 2013. The problem after – what is going to happen – he did not say,” a spokeswoman for the Italian economic development ministry in Rome told just-auto.

Noting the unions were still concerned as to Fiat’s future Italian plans, the spokeswoman described this weekend’s meeting as “only a day to make public relations, a red carpet to shake hands.”

As well as national politicians, the meeting also included Fiat chairman and chief executive John Elkann, Piedmont regional governor Roberto Cota, Turin province president Antonio Saitta and Mayor, Sergio Chiamparino.

The Italian government spokeswoman also welcomed plans by Fiat to increase vehicle production in Italy from 650,000 to 1.4m, although gave no timetable for the extra manufacturing capability.

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