Fiat Group chief executive Giuseppe Morchio reportedly said on Thursday that the Italian group would not consider linking up with any partner other than General Motors, which co-owns its Fiat Auto car unit.

A Reuters report said GM bought a fifth of Fiat Auto in 2000 and set up vital joint ventures with the Turin-based group that should save the companies €1 billion each by next year but tensions have since strained with GM last year refusing to pay its share of a €5billion recapitalisation of the sputtering vehicle unit, diluting its stake, and saying an option for Fiat to force the rest of Fiat Auto onto GM was now void.

Reuters noted that the start of the “put” option has been delayed by a year to January 2005 to give the companies time to sort out the spat and Fiat’s chairman Umberto Agnelli has said he could seek compensation if GM annuls the “put”.

Asked if Fiat would now look to set up an alliance with any other carmaker, Morchio bluntly told Reuters: “No.”

“Our partnership with GM is an industrial partnership. That is how both GM and Fiat are defining it and the results are giving us both great satisfaction,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an employers body meeting in Rome.

The news agency noted that Fiat and GM have joint ventures to develop platforms and buy parts, saving vital money for GM’s loss-making European arm.

“The other issues are under discussion, a work in progress. We do not underestimate the difficulties but we are determined to move forward,” Morchio added, according to Reuters.