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ITALY: Politicians summon Fiat CEO to meeting

By just-auto.com editorial team | 8 February 2011

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is set to meet Sergio Marchionne on Saturday following the Fiat CEO's controversial remarks that the Italian automaker could be based in the US after a merger with Chrysler.

Economic minister Giulio Tremonti, industry minister Paolo Romani, labour minister Maurizio Sacconi and cabinet undersecretary Gianni Letta will also attend the meeting, the government said, according to AFP.

Marchionne, who assured workers in February he had no immediate plans to merge Fiat with its American partner, said in San Francisco on Friday that the two groups could merge within three years into a company with a US headquarters.

His comments caused outrage and indignation in Italy, where Fiat is a national symbol and the country's largest private sector employer.

Trade unions and politicians have already accused Marchionne of "blackmail" in pushing through a tough deal on working conditions at Fiat's flagship Mirafiori plant in Turin to save the factory from closure.

"On Saturday, I will ask Marchionne to commit to investing in our country and remain with head and heart" in Italy, Romani said on Monday evening.

Turin's Mayor Sergio Chiamparino said after speaking with Fiat president John Elkann on the weekend, that Fiat and Chrysler were likely to build their business around several centres, with headquarters in the US.

Last month Fiat raised its stake in Chrysler from 20% to 25% with an option to go up to 51% this year.

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