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Fiat realigns Maserati from Ferrari to Alfa

Reuters / February 16, 2005


MILAN -- Fiat shook up its car brands on Wednesday, splitting the sleek
Maserati marque from the Ferrari racing unit to link it more closely to its
sporty but underperforming Alfa Romeo.

The move is widely seen as the first step in a long-awaited listing of
Ferrari, whose results are being held back by losses and high investment costs at
Maserati. It could also hail a foreign expansion of Alfa, famed for its
Spider convertible.

"Under this deal, Alfa Romeo and Maserati will establish a close technical
and commercial collaboration especially in big international markets," Fiat
said in a statement.

Alfa Romeos have not been sold in the United States since 1991 and earlier
plans to return to the world's largest car market by 2007 were shelved by
former management as sales in Europe fell.

Fiat said Maserati would continue to work closely with Ferrari on engine
technology and its commercial network.

Alfa Romeo, whose V-shaped grilles are loved by car fanatics the world over,
has underperformed the market for years and last year sales fell almost 7
percent in Italy.

Fiat hired former Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Karl-Heinz Kalbfell to run
Alfa, one of three brands that make up the mass market car unit Fiat Auto, from
the beginning of this year. In 2004 ex-Ford executive Martin Leach took over
at Maserati.

"The move is essential for Alfa Romeo's future development," Fiat Chief
Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. "We believe that in the
context of the relaunch of our car business, we need to pay close attention
to the specific character of each brand.

Alfa Romeo, whose Spider was driven by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 film "The
Graduate", has much more in common style-wise with Maserati's speedsters and
sleek limos than with Fiat-branded city cars and family estates.
 

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Even more shake up:

Source: Leach expected to leave Fiat's Maserati CEO post

CHRISTOPHER EMSDEN

Associated Press

MILAN - Martin Leach will soon leave the helm of Maserati, the sportscar brand controlled by Fiat SpA, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

Fiat earlier this week announced it will buy Maserati from Ferrari SpA, saying it intends to try to find commercial synergies between Maserati and Alfa Romeo, the sporty premium brand in Fiat Auto's stable.

Fiat originally sought Leach, who formerly ran the European operations at Ford Motor Co, to take the top job at Fiat Auto, but Ford sued to block the appointment. Fiat hired Herbert Demel in late 2003 instead.

On Thursday, Demel was fired by Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat group chief executive who took the reins at the Italian conglomerate last summer.

Demel and Leach were hired by Marchionne's predecessor, Giuseppe Morchio. Marchionne, a lawyer, is insisting on speeding up decision-making across the company and especially at the auto unit.
 
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