Marchionne Tells Piech to Drop It Over Alfa Romeo Pursuit

Fiat SpA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said Volkswagen AG Chairman Ferdinand Piech can forget about getting his hands on the Alfa Romeo brand, in the latest war of words between the two automakers.

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn revived speculation that Europe’s largest carmaker wants to buy Alfa Romeo after saying Aug. 31 he still finds the Italian brand owned by Fiat attractive. German and Italian media have since reported on renewed efforts by VW to acquire Alfa Romeo. Piech first expressed VW’s interest two years ago at the Paris Motor Show.

“Mr. Piech drop it, go and sing somewhere else,” Marchionne said today during a speech in Turin. “I am not suprised by the German boasting.” VW spokesman Eric Felber declined to comment.

The two automakers have been feuding with one another this year over efforts by Marchionne, who currently heads the ACEA lobby group, to get the region’s carmakers to cut capacity. Volkswagen threatened in July to leave the ACEA after a report that Marchionne had suggested VW’s pricing strategy was creating a “bloodbath” in the region.

Fiat confirmed today its financial targets for 2012, including a trading profit, or earnings before interest, taxes and one-time gains or costs, between 3.8 billion euros ($4.9 billion) to 4.5 billion euros. The carmaker is expecting losses in Europe this year of 700 million euro.

Fiat over the weekend outlined its strategy to the government to “re-orient its business model” in Italy to help boost exports outside Europe.

Italian Manufacturing

Marchionne at the end of October will update his financial targets through 2014 to include the impact of Europe’s debt crisis. The plan may not give any details on new models and plant utilization, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified talking about internal discussions. Fiat declined to comment.

Marchionne also said today he has failed to find a partner for Fiat’s manufacturing plants in Italy because “no one wants the burden.” The CEO said he’d welcome any VW investment in Italy, including opening a car plant. Italian unions and politicians have been encouraging VW to enter the market to boost manufacturing.

Fiat has reduced spending this year in Europe by 500 million euros and delayed new models. Marchionne has said he doesn’t expect sales to recover in the region before 2014 at the earliest.

The Turin-based carmaker is trimming European management ranks at its volume nameplates by 20 percent to reduce operating losses, a person familiar with the matter said last week. About 110 of 550 managerial positions will be eliminated at the division that includes the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands, the person said.

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