MAJORCA, Spain -- General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner said Thursday that in meeting with partner Fiat, he was mostly concerned with getting to know Fiat's new chairman.
Umberto Agnelli and Wagoner met as part of a wider meeting of Fiat and GM executives on Thursday at the Geneva auto show, but focus was on the two chiefs as GM has yet to back a five billion euro recapitalization of the struggling Italian carmaker. The meeting finished without further comment from either side, a Fiat spokesman said Thursday.
"This is really the first time we had met him (Umberto Agnelli). We had dealt with his brother before, so 90 percent of today's discussion was getting to know him and talking about the business," Wagoner told Reuters while on a business trip to Majorca.
Fiat Chairman Umberto Agnelli took over as chief of Fiat last month, after the resignation of former chairman Paolo Fresco and after the death of his brother and the firm's patriarch, Gianni Agnelli.
Analysts are concerned that the Italian company will go ahead with a five-billion-euro recapitalization without first gaining GM's approval.
GM, which already owns 20 percent of Fiat's core car division and could be compelled to buy the rest from 2004, also has joint ventures with Fiat in purchasing and through its Powertrain engine making unit.
Asked if more joint ventures were possible, Wagoner said:
"There are more that we can do. Some of them are long-term payoffs and some of them are near term."
Commenting on the new Fiat models shown at the Geneva show, he said: "They did not look like a company that was on its last legs, as opposed to the Paris show."
Before the meeting, Fiat's new chairman said he hoped to avoid ever exercising the put option.