MILAN Aug 8 Fiat chief executive
Sergio Marchionne and Italian labour minister Elsa Fornero have
talked about meeting this month to discuss the Italian
automaker's investment plans, Fornero told RAI's Radio Anch'io
"Marchionne and I have spoken recently. We have talked about
meeting in August. From the statements I have heard recently, I
have understood that Fiat will maintain its investment plans
here even though it is a difficult moment," Fornero said.
Marchionne, who also runs Chrysler, on July 31 confirmed
Fiat's plan to spend 7.5 billion euros in 2012, most of it
outside its home turf in Italy. But Fiat said on August 1 it
could not give indications on future investments in Italy
because of a five-year slump in the European car market.
In Europe, where it is losing money, Marchionne said Fiat
would "sit on the sidelines" in terms of planning an update of
its ageing Punto model.
The weak car market has reignited fears that Fiat could be
preparing to announce a plant closure in Italy, where the
economy contracted 2.5 percent in June from a year ago. Fiat has
sent workers at many of its Italian plants home on temporary
layoff in August due to slack demand.
"We reserve the right to deal with these issues, including
the issue of closing plants, after the third quarter, when we
will have a better reading of the European market," Marchionne
said in a conference call on July 31.
In Europe, where mass-market automakers are waging a
bruising battle with plummeting sales and shrinking margins,
Fiat said last month its trading loss narrowed to 138 million
euros from a loss of 207 million euros in the first quarter.
Highlighting the crisis in Italy, overall car sales there
fell 21.4 percent in July, data showed last week, and Fiat sales
suffered a similar decline. Car registrations also dropped in
Spain and France.
(Reporting by Jennifer Clark and Steve Scherer; Editing by