Speaking to The Financial Times , Fiat chairman Paolo Fresco has admitted that Fiat could ‘entertain’ a government solution to its financial crisis.

“As far as we are concerned, if there is a financial solution that the government has in mind, we would entertain it,” Paolo Fresco told the Financial Times. “We would not object to that, far from it.”

The comments will raise suspicions that the Italian government is seeking to gain a stake in the troubled carmaking unit of the company and prevent the closure of plants on social policy grounds. Last week, the Italian Treasury denied that the government is considering a stake in the company, but government ministers have since been quoted in the press taking a much more favourable position on the idea.

The notion of formal state involvement in the affairs of Fiat Auto is proving controversial and will certainly cause consternation for GM executives. GM – a 20% stakeholder in Fiat Auto – has already made it clear that any change in Fiat Auto’s ownership will render Fiat’s ‘put option’ to sell the remaining 80% of Fiat Auto to GM in 2004 redundant.

It will also place a question mark over plans to further deepen the integration of GM and Fiat’s operations.