Italy court orders new trial for former Fiat execs

ROME, June 20 (Reuters) - Italy’s Supreme Court has ordered two close advisers of Italy’s powerful Agnelli dynasty to stand a new trial for charges of market manipulation relating to a deal that allowed the family to keep control of the top domestic carmaker Fiat.

Former top Ifil executives Gianluigi Gabetti, Franzo Grande Stevens and Virgilio Marrone, once considered the right-hand men of former Fiat owner Gianni Agnelli, had been acquitted in 2010 from charges of purposely delaying key information to the market ahead of an equity swap that allowed the Agnellis to keep their 30 percent stake in Italy’s biggest industrial group.

Following an appeal by Turin prosecutors against the ruling, Italy’s highest court ordered on Wednesday a new Turin court to try Gabetti and Grande Stevens. The court confirmed instead the acquittal of Marrone.

The high-profile case dates back to the summer of 2005, when Fiat shares soared on market talk the Agnelli family was buying shares to avoid a dilution of its stake after banks converted a 3 billion-euro loan into Fiat stock.

Despite initial denials, former holding group Ifil, now folded into Exor, later announced it had bought 82.85 million Fiat shares from sister holding firm Exor through a complex equity swap involving U.S. bank Merrill Lynch.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and Ifil denied any wrongdoing.

At the end of 2010, Turin chief judge Giuseppe Casalbore cleared former Gabetti, Grande Stevens and Marrone, saying there was no evidence of market manipulation in the case. (Reporting by Rome newsroom; writing by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Richard Chang)