Italy Industry Minister asks Fiat to stay in Italy

ROME Thu May 23, 2013 5:06pm BST

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ROME May 23 (Reuters) - Italian Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato said he asked automaker Fiat to stay in Italy after its planned merger with Chrysler, which has led labour unions to fear it plans to move its headquarters to the United States.

Italy's biggest industrial company holds a 58.5 cent stake in Chrysler and plans to buy out the U.S. automaker and seek a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, most likely in 2014.

Fears of a Fiat move resurfaced after regulatory filings showed that sister company Fiat Industrial, which makes trucks and tractors, plans to shift its fiscal domicile to Britain after a merger with U.S. unit CNH, due to be completed later this year. Politicians and unions have objected to the move.

Zanonato said earlier this week he would seek a meeting with Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne.

"I've spoken to Marchionne. It was a friendly phone conversation and I told him what I will tell him when we meet face to face: I will ask him for Fiat to stay in Italy and continue being an Italian company," Zanonato said on Thursday on the sidelines of an annual meeting of business lobby Confindustria.

Fiat, which is profitable because of revenue from Chrysler, has come under political and union pressure to protect jobs in Italy, while financial investors push for cost cuts and closures.

Marchionne has repeatedly denied that Fiat could move some plants outside Italy.

Fiat Industrial said on Wednesday its plan to shift fiscal domicile to the U.K. does not mean Italy will lose out on tax revenues. nI6N0DR007

Last year the company said it paid 536 million euros ($690.2 million) in taxes, including 46 percent of that sum in North America, 11 percent in Latin America and 27 percent in Europe, of which 5 percent was in Italy, the company said.

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