Fiat CEO will not close factories in Italy

Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:08pm EDT
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By Jennifer Clark

MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat FIA.MI boss Sergio Marchionne said he will not close car factories in Italy despite a plunging domestic market, responding to calls from unions and politicians to clarify a multi-billion euro investment plan.

The chief executive has come under pressure to provide details of Fiat's Italian strategy as the economic recession heightens concerns over job losses at the country's biggest private employer.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and his key economic ministers will meet Fiat's executives on September 22 to discuss the carmaker's plans for Italy, the government said in a statement.

The company has only earmarked a fraction of the 16 billion euros for Italian investment outlined in a five-year plan in 2010. Fiat said last week it was unrealistic to expect that a project announced two and a half years ago could remain unchanged.

"We're in a dramatic situation here, and I've never talked about plant closures, I've never said I wanted to leave," Marchionne told Rome daily La Repubblica.

"I can assure you that it's a huge responsibility to make these choices today."

The Agnelli family stands united behind Marchionne, Chairman John Elkann said on Tuesday.

"We have reiterated today that the investment plan must take into account a very difficult situation. We are studying the situation to go ahead in a responsible way," Elkann told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Turin.   Continued...

Fiat-Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne gestures during the official presentation of the new Fiat 500L car in downtown Turin July 3, 2012. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino