Fiat loses its heir apparent

FIAT, Italy's largest industrial company, which owns Ferrari has lost the man who had been expected to run the company when the current chairman Cesare Romiti retires. He is 74 and was managing-director of Fiat from 1980 until 1995 when chairman Gianni Agnelli retired.

It had been expected that Romiti would be replaced by Gianni Agnelli's nephew Giovanni Alberto Agnelli. Sadly the 33-year-old died last weekend, the victim of intestinal cancer.

Agnelli's disappearance creates a major problem for the company as there is now no obvious successor from within the family - which still controls around 32% of Fiat's shares. Gianni's brother Umberto - Giovanni's father - is a possible candidate but he is rather too old for the job as well.

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