Fiat Says Alfa Boss to Run Maserati

Italy's Fiat pushed ahead with its restructuring plan on Monday, naming former Rolls-Royce boss Karl-Heinz Kalbfell to run a new grouping of its sporty brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Fiat Says Alfa Boss to Run Maserati

Italy's Fiat pushed ahead with its restructuring plan on Monday, naming former Rolls-Royce boss Karl-Heinz Kalbfell to run a new grouping of its sporty brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Fiat said in a statement that Kalbfell, head of the Alfa Romeo unit since January 2005, would replace Martin Leach at the wheel of Maserati in a latest wave of management turmoil.

Last week, Fiat split Maserati out of its racing car unit Ferrari and said it would work more closely with Alfa Romeo in the future, while still keeping technological and commercial ties with Ferrari.

Media said Leach was unhappy with that decision and had decided to leave, less than a year after he joined the company.

Fiat said on Monday that Leach would leave the group altogether, scotching speculation that he could move to Fiat Auto, the core car arm which accounts for 40 percent of group sales but which is still struggling to return to profit.

Fiat's former management had hired Leach to run Fiat Auto, but he was blocked by his previous employer, Ford, which insisted he respect a non-compete clause in his contact. The clause was later annulled.

Leach is the second manager to leave Fiat in quick succession, less than a week after Herbert Demel was ousted from Fiat Auto. That in turn was only days after CEO Sergio Marchionne settled a $2 billion deal to dissolve a partnership with General Motors, which he said was holding back Fiat.

Analysts and workers hope Marchionne will speed up Fiat Auto's turnaround, but he faces a tough task.

Production was effectively halted across Fiat's Italian plants on Monday when a strike at parts maker ITCA blocked production at the automaker's factories not already shuttered by temporary layoffs.

A Fiat official said production was halted in Melfi, which produces the Fiat Punto and the Lancia Ypsilon, Pomigliano which produces Alfa Romeo models and Sevel which makes the Ducato van.

Fiat had said it would temporarily shut down operations at its Mirafiori and Termini Imerese plants this week to scale back output in line with demand.

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