Italy was the only market to see a drop in demand, while new Fiat registrations also fell more than 7 percent. (Photo : Reuters)
(Reuters) - Prominent Italian businessman Diego Della Valle, who controls luxury shoemaker Tod's, lashed out at car maker Fiat on Friday, accusing the company and its top manager of a lack of coherence and commitment to Italy.
The unusual move underscored tensions within the country's business elite ahead of next year's general election at a time of deep recession and great financial volatility.
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Fiat, led by Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, said on Thursday the group's domestic investment plans needed to be constantly reviewed because of a deep economic crisis, which has seen the Italian car market collapse to 1970s levels.
"Marchionne & company have gone beyond all expectations as they were able with just a short statement to cancel important commitments taken with their workers, the government and the country," Della Valle said in an emailed statement. "The true problems of Fiat are not its workers, Italy or the crisis, but its main shareholders and its CEO."
A spokesman for Fiat, Italy's largest industrial group which controls U.S. automaker Chrysler, declined to comment. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, head of sports car maker Ferrari, a unit of Fiat, dubbed Della Valle's comments as "unacceptable", according to Italian news agency ANSA.
Della Valle had already clashed with Fiat when he was ousted earlier this year by the pact of investors that controls RCS MediaGroup, publisher of influential newspaper Corriere Della Sera, following a management shakeup endorsed by Fiat and top investment bank Mediobanca .
Industry Minister Corrado Passera said on Friday the government would ask Fiat to clarify its plans to review investments in Italy.
In comments confirmed by an industry ministry spokesman, Passera said the government would ask the company for "all the clarifications necessary in cases like this."
Fiat issued Thursday's statement after politicians and trade unionists expressed concern for Fiat's domestic investment plans, originally launched under the banner "Fabbrica Italia."
In October last year, Fiat said it would no longer use that term because it had become interpreted as "an absolute commitment of the company."
Fabbrica Italia when first introduced in 2010 envisaged investments of around 20 billion euros ($25.8 billion).