MILAN (Reuters) -- Fiat is expected to hire Martin Leach, who this week quit his post as Ford Europe president and chief operating officer, to head Fiat Auto, two Italian newspapers reported on Wednesday.
Il Giornale quoted an unnamed source as saying Fiat Chief Executive Giuseppe Morchio had been asking Leach to join Fiat for some time and he had wavered, but now having left Ford Europe, Leach was likely to join the loss-making car maker.
Ford Europe said on Tuesday that Leach had decided to leave the company just a month after it posted a shock loss for the second quarter.
Ford Europe said Leach made the decision to leave but the company declined to say what Leach's future plans were.
La Repubblica, without quoting a source, said talks were under way to get Leach on board to replace current Fiat Auto head Giancarlo Boschetti, due to step down next year.
Fiat declined to comment on the reports.
Automotive News reported last month that Fiat had hired a Paris-based headhunter to find a replacement for Boschetti. It said the firm had presented a shortlist including Leach; Mark Fields, chairman and CEO of Ford's Premier Automotive Group; and Frederic Saint-Geours, Peugeot's managing director.
Industry sources have said most car executives have contract clauses which prevent them from joining competitors for some time. Il Giornale said Leach could join Fiat Auto before the end of this year.