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Fiat shares hit by departure of Alfa Romeo chief
13.01.2009, Carfwebmaster


Fiat shares hit by departure of Alfa Romeo chief

Shares in Fiat, the Italian automotive group, continued to fall on Tuesday due to the departure of Luca De Meo, its highly regarded marketing chief and head of its Alfa Romeo and Abarth marques.
Mr De Meo, regarded as a key figure in Fiat’s turnaround in the past few years, on Monday said he was leaving to pursue other interests.
“At 41, I feel the need to take a new professional path ...[after] ... seven marvellous, unforgettable years [at Fiat]”, he said in a statement issued by the Turin-based group. The news sent Fiat shares down nearly 3.5 per cent to close at €5.45 on Monday while the broader Italian market was down 1 per cent. The shares were down a further 2.1 per cent in early trading on Tuesday.
The news of Mr De Meo’s departure reversed a strong rise in Fiat’s share price earlier on Monday after Goldman Sachs upgraded its stock to “buy”, with a target price of €9. The stock closed at €5.45 on Monday while the broader Italian market was down 1 per cent. The group is due to announce its results for 2008 later this month.
Mr De Meo served on the executive committee of Fiat, and he was said to be particularly close to Sergio Marchionne, the group’s chief executive, who has boosted the firm’s marketing activities as part of the turnaround. Fiat has begun to thrive in recent years after years of under-performance, though its fortunes have been hit, along with other car makers, by the global financial crisis.
Mr Marchionne said he was “disappointed” by Mr De Meo’s departure, but added: “I understand a young, bright and capable person such as Luca wanting to seek out new opportunities.” There was no immediate word on any successor.

By Vincent Boland in Milan
Published: January 13 2009 12:11 | Last updated: January 13 2009 12:11
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009