Fiat considers future of Ferrari, Maserati

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Fiat plans to reorganize the units over-seeing its Ferrari and Maserati luxury sports- car brands ahead of plans to spin off shares in the units, local media reported.

Fiat has so far declined to comment on the plans, but several Italian newspapers have re-ported that the company is considering a spin-off of the Ferrari unit as a way to unlock value in the brand otherwise lost in Fiat's massive hold-ings. Shares in the new company could be used to help retain talent -- such as Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and Formula One champion Michael Schumacher -- with the use of stock options.

Plans to revive Maserati were officially an-nounced last year and would fall in line with the reported initiative involving Ferrari. Ma-serati is a subsidiary of Ferrari, which is owned by Fiat. According to the media reports, the efforts involving Maserati will involve an aggressive promotional effort, while the efforts with Ferrari will include streamlining operations and increasing the unit's autonomy.

Though Fiat participated in a share swap with U.S.-based General Motors Corp. last year, owner-ship in Ferrari and Maserati remained completely in the hands of Fiat.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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