SANTA MARGHERITA LIGURE, Italy -- Fiat CEO Giuseppe Morchio on Friday refused to be drawn on a report that top managers would be fired in a restructuring plan due to be unveiled at the end of June.
Financial weekly Economy said Morchio would take an axe to Fiat's white-collar workers after cutting about 17,000 blue collars last year, some of them under a temporary layoff scheme. Asked about the cuts, Morchio said: "The atmosphere is very good at Fiat and people are highly motivated."
"We have to guarantee the credibility of our forecasts and be able to do more than we say we're going to," Morchio added.
The magazine reported that Morchio's plan would oust Giancarlo Boschetti from the driving seat at Fiat Auto, the core car arm which has dragged the industrial group deep into the red, while Michel de Lambert, CEO of truck unit Iveco, would also go.
Boschetti took over at Fiat Auto in December 2001 and penned a plan to pull into profit by the second half of 2003. In March, he put that target back to 2004 and said the maker of the Punto city car would not hit breakeven in any quarter before that.
"We have done a lot of work (on the new plan) but we still have to clear up many points so I don't think it is right to give you a taster of what it will include," Morchio said.
Morchio, Fiat's fourth CEO in a year, has previously said his plan will be based on cost cuts, r&d and customer care. Chairman Umberto Agnelli has said Fiat will keep as many jobs as needed to make the company efficient.
Fiat's factories are working at less than 70 percent capacity and many analysts say Italy's biggest private employer needs to cut more jobs. That will be hard given the fierce opposition of fiery unionists and the Italian government.
Morchio said Fiat Auto, which posted a record 1.3 billion euro operating loss last year, was Fiat's core business.