According to Reuters, newly appointed Fiat chief executive Alessandro Barberis said this week that he expected possible signs of recovery only at the end of next year, adding 2003 would be "not easy."

"In general the markets will certainly not be brilliant," Barberis said in a statement quoting his speech to Fiat managers, sighted by Reuters. "Perhaps some signs of recovery will be seen towards the end of the year."

Reuters said that Barberis, who took over last week as CEO following the resignation of Gabriele Galateri, also said the company planned to stick to financial targets agreed earlier this year with creditor banks which included debt-cutting.

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