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Fiat/VW luxury supergroup?

The possibility of a luxury car maker “supergroup” emerging from the ashes of Fiat Auto – with VW involvement – may be the preferred option of the bank which the Italian Government had hoped would take over the ailing carmaker. But that plan, increasingly gaining media attention, was overshadowed by yesterday's shock resignation of Fiat Group chief executive Gabriele Galateri.

And the man tipped to take over from Galateri is Enrico Bondi, a company doctor who is close to Mediobanco, the main proponent of the supergroup plan. Mediobanco, which has taken a 34 per cent stake in Ferrari, is thought to prefer the setting up of a new luxury car group, including Maserati and Alfa Romeo, in a link-up with Volkswagen. The German carmaker would take a 49 per cent stake.

Fiat Auto's creditor banks are incensed at any vacillation from the agreed restructuring plan which is intended to beef up Fiat so it can exercise its option to sell control of the unit to GM. The Italian Government is against any plan which would take the carmaker out of Italian control – but its prior support for any Mediobanco takeover may have been damaged by the bank's supergroup plan.

According to today's Financial Times , the Italian Government has been pressuring the Fiat major shareholders, the Agnellis, to change Fiat Auto's management structure to prevent sale of the carmaker to GM. The Agnelli skids may well now be under chairman Paolo Fresco.

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