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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 10:44 GMT
Fiat boss denies end of GM tie-up
Fiat Panda
Despite financial problems, Fiat's Panda has had glowing reviews
Fiat chairman Luca di Montezemolo has brushed off media reports that the company wants to scrap its partnership with US giant General Motors (GM).

Mr di Montezemolo said the "gossip" could be harmful to the Italian firm, which is continuing with efforts to cut losses and return to profitability.

His comments came at the same time as Fiat staff announced plans for a strike in December over job-cut fears.

General Motors owns a 10% share in Turin-based Fiat.

New joint-ventures?

"We're not going to create problems where there aren't any," Mr di Montezemolo said.

"(Fiat Chief Executive) Sergio Marchionne is working with great ability and determination for the relaunch of Fiat.

"Everything else is just gossip, moreover, that risks becoming harmful."

The Italian media has speculated that Fiat is keen to forge new partnerships with French firm PSA Peugeot Citroen and Japan's Honda.

At present it shares some components with GM, such as the next generation Fiat Punto being based on the same platform as GM's Vauxhall and Opel Corsa.

Other Italian newspapers speculate that Fiat, whose other business interests stretch from tractors to energy supply, will sell off its entire car-making arm, something it has denied.

Next months' strike comes despite Fiat's pledge that its continuing cost-cutting efforts will not involve closing any factories or losing any jobs.

Back in July, Fiat posted losses of 282m euros ($375m; 198m), partly due to a strike, but also lacklustre sales at home and across Europe.

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