MILAN -- Ferrari SpA, controlled by Fiat, reported on Wednesday that its net profit plunged in 2002 after it paid an 18.2 million euro ($19.3 million) bonus to Chairman Luca di Montezemolo.
Ferrari said its net profit slid to 21.6 million euros from 47 million euros. The maker of Ferrari and Maserati cars has been a bright spot for Fiat, which lost billions of euros last year.
Without the bonus paid to Montezemolo, a three million euro one-off payment to Ferrari racing team head Jean Todt and other one-off costs for a total of 26.6 million euros, Ferrari's net would still have declined but more moderately.
Ferrari said its operating profit rose 13.7 percent to 70.5 million euros, and sales rose 14.1 percent to 1.21 billion.
A Ferrari spokeswoman said the bonuses, decided at a Fiat board meeting in October but not previously disclosed, were given as a reward for bringing "visible, tangible improvements" to the company.
Montezemolo's bonus would almost certainly have made him Italy's best-paid CEO in 2002. The best-paid executive in 2001, Pirelli Chief Executive Carlo Buora, made 7.8 million euros, according to figures from Il Mondo magazine.
Montezemolo, who has been at Ferrari for more than 10 years, is credited with strengthening the automaker's brand and results. Under Todt, the Fiat division has also dominated Formula 1 racing, winning the driver's title for three straight years.
Fiat sold 34 percent of the racing car division to a group of banks led by Mediobanca last June for 775 million euros as a prelude to an initial public offering.
Montezemolo, who was seen as close to recently deceased Fiat patriarch Giovanni Agnelli, has been rumoured as a candidate to become Fiat's chairman. He took a place at Fiat's board last month in the latest top management shake-up at the group.