TURIN – Six days before a bankruptcy court hearing on its fate, Carrozzeria Bertone will unveil this afternoon in Rome a new industrial plan that could save 1,000 of the company's 1,300 jobs.
In a statement released Tuesday, Lili Bertone, Carrozzeria Bertone's chairman, CEO and controlling shareholder, said the company has received a letter of intent from an industrial group with a strong track record in the automotive field.
The company declined to give further details.
The Italian press has speculated that Gianmario Rossignolo, a former Fiat and Telecom Italia executive, could take over a large portion of Carrozzeria Bertone's assets and personnel to build an unidentified luxury SUV.
Rossignolo denied his involvement to Italian news agencies.
Bertone said it is currently assisted by Kenton & Miles International and by the corporate finance division of Banca Arner as advisors in these talks.
In Rome this afternoon, Bertone will meet with worker unions and Italian labor minister Pierluigi Bersani.
Unions are skeptical
We will listen to the company, but right now we think a commissioner named by the Turin bankruptcy court could be the safest solution for Bertone workers, said Turin Fiom general secretary Giorgio Airaudo.
On December 18, the Turin bankruptcy court will rule whether Carrozzeria Bertone can continue its activity, or name a commissioner or begin a bankruptcy protection process.
On Monday, Bertone issued a press release denying it had reached any agreement with Dr Motor, the Italian maker of SUVs built from complete knock-down kits coming from Chinese carmaker Chery Automobile.
Dr Motor CEO Luca Falasca told Automotive News Europe his company learned of the abrupt end of talks from the press release.
Bertone needs any work it can get. Its lines have been idle since it finished a 2,000-unit run of a limited-edition version of the Mini in summer 2006.
Volume production of the Opel-Vauxhall Astra cabriolet ceased at the end of 2005.
The company has capacity to make 70,000 units a year and needs to produce 30,000 units a year to break even. In the last three years, it lost a combined 37.3 million euros ($55.4 million) on total sales of 325 million euros ($482.9 million).
A state-funded program that protects Bertones 1,300 employees expires December 31.