Fiat's restructuring

AS we suggested yesterday, there is a major restructuring coming at Fiat with the group announcing plans to save $4bn in the course of the next three years thanks to restructuring and selling off non-core assets. The new proposals are being put forward by Fiat chairman Paolo Fresco in the face of continuing losses in the Fiat Auto Holdings division, which produces Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Autobianchi cars. The company has debts of $6bn and earlier restructuring has not worked. The company is expected to report a first quarter loss in the next few weeks.

Fresco insists that Fiat will not sell Fiat Auto despite the fact that it could off-load the entire company to General Motors for something like $10bn as early as 2004, thanks to an option which GM acquired when it bought 20% of Fiat Auto in 2000.

Fresco told The Financial Times that the option was "a protection for our share-owners" but said that "no-one wants to use it". This means that it is almost certain that Fiat will float around 40% of the Ferrari company. This is expected to raise around $750m but would still leave Fiat in control of the business which builds Ferrari and Maserati road cars and markets the Ferrari brand. Fiat may also sell off its tooling business Comau and the plans also include more diversification into the financial services and energy industries.

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